November 10, 2000

TCAT to Increase Fares

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Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit (TCAT) tentatively approved a new fare increase at a public meeting yesterday, contingent upon further investigation into other proposals to raise revenue.

The increase would raise fares from 75 cents to $1 for single zone trips and from $1.50 to $2 for multizone trips, starting Jan. 1.

Several members of the Cornell and Ithaca communities expressed reservation or outrage over the increase through comments at public meetings, phone calls, letters and e-mail. Four e-mails were distributed at the meeting.

“TCAT has some nerve even thinking about a fare increase,” wrote Ithaca resident Janet Breslin, in response to service changes. “[I take] three buses to go two miles? What genius figured this route out?”

Breslin also cited rude bus drivers and loud music on the buses as problems TCAT needs to address.

The additional funds would be used to cover a $500,000 budget shortfall, the result of increased liability insurance costs, fuel prices and pay raises for employees.

TCAT’s insurance premium doubled after Cornell junior Michelle Evans was struck and killed on campus last March.

“It is public knowledge that the driver involved in the accident was charged while driving under the influence of alcohol,” wrote Ithaca resident Holly Mathison. “Thus, I feel it is unfair for TCAT’s passengers to pay for any insurance increases which resulted because of this tragic accident.”

Only two Ithaca residents were present to comment on the increase before the vote. “Public meetings were fairly lightly attended,” said Rod Ghearing, TCAT general manager, who added that a meeting at Cornell drew five attendees.

Ghearing noted that the major issues of concern surrounded increasing service on some heavily traveled routes, more rural service and more express service.

“It seemed from all the e-mail that people thought that TCAT had a pot of money to do things with,” said Barbara Blanchard, a member of the Tompkins County Board of Representatives.

The University subsidizes student bus passes and the size of the increase for Cornellians has yet to be determined.

During the meeting, Ghearing proposed setting up a single fare for both single and multi-zones as one alternative to the proposed fare increase.

“The cash paying fare is one of the smallest components [at 11 percent] of our budget,” said Henrik N. Dullea, vice president for University relations. “It’s an important part, certainly, but small compared to the contributions of the state and the contributions of Cornell University.”

The Board of Directors will reconvene Nov. 27 after gathering more information on the suggestion.

Archived article by Beth Herskovits