October 25, 2000

TCAT to Raise Fares

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Bus riders may have to dig deeper into their pockets to cover the fare increase proposed by the board of directors of Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT).

The increase – which would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2000 – would bump fare prices from 75 cents to $1 for single zone trips and from $1.50 to $2 for multizone trips.

TCAT will use the additional funds to cover an addtional $500,000 in expenses. These expenses resulted from higher insurance costs, higher fuel prices, increased hours of bus service and pay raises for employees.

TCAT’s liabilty insurance doubled after the death of Michelle Evans, a Cornell junior who was struck and killed on the corner of Thruston and Wait avenues on March 16. Evans’ family is bringing a $4 million wrongful death suit against the bus company, bus driver Timothy T. Stranger, Cornell University, Tompkins County and the City of Ithaca.

The insurance increase, from approximately $160,000 to $325,000, represents, along with the rising cost of fuel and labor costs consistent with union contracts, about 85 percent of the financial need for a fare increase.

“These costs [for fuel] are affecting everyone from airlines to bus service,” said Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations.

Since August 1999, TCAT added more routes through campus and around Ithaca as well as weekend service. “We tweaked some services, and we added some here and there,” said Rod Ghearing, TCAT general manager.

In addition to the fares, other sources of revenue come from state aid and Cornell’s discount program.

“The farebox has had a very small portion of the overall burden,” Dullea said. “We have the lowest fare system in all of upstate New York.”

Students who already purchased passes for next semester will not be affected by the increase but could experience possible changes for the 2001-02 school year.

“The administration hasn’t really made a decision at Cornell in regard to pass prices [which are subsidized by the University],” Ghearing said. “The University pays us on a per ride basis.”

“In a way it’s easier because it’s exact. It’s easier having $1 than 75 cents,” said Jessica Ma ’04. However, “A lot of other universities don’t require paying for the bus passes [so] I guess the University should subsidize more of it.”

Included in the proposal is the elimination of Route 35 (Cayuga Heights/Cornell) — which will be covered by Route 30 — and a reduction of service on Route 18.

Archived article by Beth Herskovits