Tucson could soon have higher bus fares - Tucson News Now

Tucson could soon have higher bus fares

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

For the first time in five years, the city of Tucson may be raising its bus fares, although it does face opposition. 

Tucson City Manager, Michael Ortega, is recommending a plan which would raise rates 25 cents over two years and would raise $1.9 million a year in revenue for the general fund.

The money would be used to help plug a budget hole faced by the city, which is trying to make its way to a structured and balanced budget.

Part of the issue for Tucson transit is a lack of ridership. Ridership dropped significantly last year during a 43 day strike and has yet to rebound.

"No one expected a strike and certainly did not expect the impact the strike has on ridership," said Ortega. "Ridership has been and will continue to be a concern for us."

One reason why it has not come back is low gasoline prices. 

A second potential reason is because as the young generation of millennials becomes more affluent, it is driving more and taking transit less.

Several national studies bear this out and an RTA survey, yet to be released, may show that's also happening in Tucson.

The manager's recommendation is here.

Even though the final decision on rates will be made by the Mayor and council, the city manager feels that whether it comes from bus fees or somewhere else, the budget hole needs to be plugged and it needs to be a shared sacrifice.

"It's about the budget," Ortega said. "There needs to be some way to make up that lost revenue if fees are not increased."

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