JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Public transportation could cost riders more next year after the Jacksonville Transportation Authority introduced a proposal to its board Thursday to increase its fares.
Under the proposal, a single trip fare would increase to $1.75 and a day pass would go from $4 to $4.50. The seven-day pass would change from $16 to $20 and the 31-day pass would change from $50 to $65.
The proposal also includes an increase in fares for 2019 and 2021.
Senior citizens would continue to ride free of charge.
JTA riders said a fare increase of just a quarter or two can add up quickly, especially if they're taking the bus everyday.
"Looking at the price it was when I first moved here -- I'm from Alabama -- it was only 75 cents. Now, I'm paying $1.50,” said Veeta Davis, who rides the bus daily because she doesn't have a vehicle. "Me, sometimes I'm in my piggy bank, trying to find a quarter and a dime. It's going to affect us."
Some other riders agreed, saying JTA is their only option to get around, and they don't have a choice.
"I think it's going to put a little hardship on people who are down on their luck,” William Leaptrott said.
Davis said some people might have to stop riding the bus, because they can't afford it.
JTA projected a 3 percent decline with the proposed fare increase. It's already seen less riders on the bus as a result of the previous rise in costs for bus tickets.
Other riders said they expected the increase.
"If you want the service, you've got to pay for it,” Charles Cue said.
JTA officials said they need the revenue to improve their services, including adding more buses, covering the cost of Wi-Fi and compressed natural gas stations.
A number of challenges were discussed during the presentation including:
- Current farebox recovery is 16% and declining.
- Current revenue sources not sustainable in the long run.
- Complimentary fares represent 20% of system ridership.
- Sustaining high-quality service.
The proposal still has to go through public comment and a vote by the JTA board before the new fares are set in stone. The approval process could be lengthy. If everything works out and the board approves the proposal, it wouldn't take affect until around May 2017.
JTA is partially funded by federal dollars, so for the proposal to go through, it would have to meet Title VI requirements, which means JTA must prove the new fares won't discriminate against a group of people.