The big news from the Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation Advisory Committee meeting on Monday, March 27 came from a speaker from the floor and it wasn’t about roads but buses.
Greensboro Transit Authority (GTA) Board member Cheryl McQueary informed the MPO that the GTA board had voted to recommend an increase in bus fares for the fixed routes and for the paratransit service better known as SCAT.
The GTA board is recommending an increase in fixed route fares to $1.75 for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. For SCAT the increase would initially be to $2 and then after six months an increase to $2.50.
Later in the meeting, the chair of the MPO City Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter asked that Director of the Greensboro Department of Transportation Adam Fischer explain in more detail how the bus fare process worked.
Fischer said that the GTA board had voted to recommend that the fares be increased, and that recommendation would go to City Manager David Parrish who would then decide whether to include a fare increase in the budget he presents to the City Council. Ultimately the decision on raising bus fares will be made by the City Council and the City Council is required to hold a public hearing on any proposed fare increase.
After the meeting Fischer said that GTA is running a $1.7 million deficit in the current fiscal year which is being covered with reserve funds and grants, but he said that next year without a fare increase GTA was initially looking at a $3.4 million deficit but some grant money was found to reduce that to a $2.7 million deficit. Fischer said he had been told there was no more money in the reserve funds and that the proposed fare increases were necessary to balance the GTA budget for 2019-2020.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan who is a member of the MPO commented that the City Council might decide to move money from another account to cover the projected GTA deficit rather than raising fares, but it was too early to make any predictions.
Bus fares reportedly have not been raised since 2012.
The recommendation to raise fares is there, but like everything else it will ultimately be up to the City Council to make the call.