The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors voted on May 10 to establish new fares, amend, and eliminate existing transit fares for Stanislaus Regional Transit. The changes were triggered by the eligibility of Federal Transit Administration funds, said Public Works Director Matt Machado.
Transit operational costs and associated transit fares are evaluated annually to ensure compliance with Federal and State-mandated requirements, including the consideration of new or additional fees as well as modification to existing fees in order to cover increased operational cost.
“We’ve established a handful of new fares and we’ve adjusted most of the other fares to comply with these federal statutes and also to meet our new fare box ratio,” said Machado.
New transit fares proposed by StaRT and approved by the Board include fares for planned Americans with Disabilities Act paratransit services, as well as fares for the new commuter express bus service in the County’s service area. It was also proposed that a new, One-Day Pass and an Employer Pass for businesses located within the service area be established.
Reduced fares will also be implemented, with seniors, persons with disabilities and persons with a Medicare card paying half the fare charged on the fixed route system. Reduced fares include one-way cash fare, the 20-Ride ticket, 31-Day Pass and the newly-approved One-Day Pass.
As a result of the vote, the ADA Complementary Paratransit Service will be offered on all StaRT fixed routes, providing assistance to those who cannot use the fixed bus route or rail service because of a disability. The recommended cash fare for the service is $3 for a one-way trip and $30 for a 10-Ride ticket.
New fares for the proposed commuter bus express service will also be implemented between Stanislaus County and the Bay Area Rapid Transit Station in Dublin. The new cash fare for one-way trips will be $13. Round-trips will be $16 and a monthly bus pass can be purchased for $170, catering to commuters who travel to and from the Dublin BART Station.
A new pass program for employers located within the County’s transit service area will come into effect as well in an effort to increase ridership on all routes. The program allows employers to subsidize or offer free passes to their employees interested in using public transit, and the monthly pass will cost $46.
New to the StaRT fare media is the introduction of a one-day pass, offering a convenient way for transit passengers to ride the bus all day with unlimited rides throughout the service area. The one-day pass fare will be $3.25 for the general public, college and university students, $3 for youth and $1.60 for seniors, persons with disabilities or persons with a Medicare card.
With the introduction of the one-day pass comes the elimination of the existing $5 Fast Fare card and the 20-ride ticket bundle that are currently sold to social and human service agencies as well as the County’s Health Services Agency and Community Services Agency.
StaRT also provides a non-emergency medical transportation service from Stanislaus County to Bay Area medical facilities for medical appointments. As part of the fare amendments, the daily cash fare for this service has now increased from $10 to $11 for one-way trips. In addition, fares for personal attendants traveling with Medivan passengers have increased from $3 to $4.
Dial-A-Ride fares will also be amended, impacting the general public and college students. The current amount, $1.50, will be raised to $1.75. Fares for college students will increase from $1.50 to $1.75 and a new category for youth, ages five to 18 years, will continue to pay $1.50. Fares for seniors, persons with disabilities or persons with a Medicare card will remain the same at $1.25.
Lastly, the existing fare structure will be amended to meet the State required fare box efficiency requirements. According to the 2010 Census, Stanislaus County’s population increased from 446,997 to over 500,000, requiring the need to increase fare box recovery ratios for all four County transit operators, including StaRT. The recommended fare box ratio for transit systems operating in urbanized areas is 20 percent, while the recommended ratio for rural areas is 10 percent. Since StaRT provides service in both urbanized and rural communities of the County, the new fare box ratio will be a blend of the two at 15 percent.
“It’s a substantial increase,” said Machado.
Following the unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors to adopt the proposed ordinance, the update to StaRT’s current fare structure will become effective on Aug. 15.