(Please note- RTA responses to these concerns are printed above, in the post entitled "Interesting Night". My opinions have changed slightly- It's okay. I'm a liberal. I can do that. :) )
So the RTA is asking for a fare increase. Again. It seems they just can't increase service without raising prices. Can't let us transit riders get something for nothing. RTA's fares are, as they stand today, higher than Foothill Transit, and on par with Metro and OCTA, even though the agency offers less service than either of the above. Only Omnitrans, out of the major local bus operators, has higher fares. And even Omnitrans manages to run buses late into the evening. Experienced local transit riders will know well the experience of taking the Omni (ex-90) 215 into Riverside, only to have to call for a ride or a cab because RTA's routes had shut down.
Worst of all, this new fare increase is slated to take away the only generous bit of the fare structure we had. CommuterLink Express routes, which used to be covered under the usual 1, 7 and 31 Day passes, are going to require a new, more expensive Express pass. No word on how this will effect UCR, RCC and CityPass riders.
And the Board isn't really ASKING for a fare increase. In their flyer for public hearings, they don't ask us whether or not a fare increase is appropriate. They just ask whether we'd like Option A or Option B. (To save you the time- A has lower CommuterLink fares but higher local fares, and B is vice-versa. The difference is about $2/month either way.)
Yet there has really been no improvement on the part of the agency to warrant the fare increase. Sure, the rerouting around UCR has been fantastic for me personally, but system-wide they've actually reduced service, including service cuts that will take effect in January. This time they can't use the excuse of "high fuel prices"- fuel prices have fallen precipitously since the beginning of the year. They're still not considering bus advertising, which is standard practice throughout the country and raises Omnitrans $750,000 per year. (The proposal talked about in the article was rejected by the Board.) And they STILL haven't said a thing about RapidLink, the much-praised Bus Rapid Transit project slated to go online in 2005 until it abruptly disappeared.
Unlike Los Angeles County, where voters just approved a half-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation, here in Riverside the RCTC is just going to squeeze bus riders for even more while providing even less service.