Austin, Texas-based Capital Metro’s board of directors adopted a proposal to streamline the transit system’s fare structure and policy. The board also approved the agency’s $283.7 million budget for fiscal year 2014 and the recommended service changes for spring 2014.
The approved fare restructure includes a phased approach for 2014 and 2015 that will eliminate the complicated zoned-fare structure for MetroRail, streamline reduced fare options and increase some pass prices.
In 2015, the base fare for local service will increase from $1 to $1.25. Currently, Capital Metro’s $1 fare ranks as one of the lowest in the state and also the nation. When adjusted for inflation, the single ride fare has less value than the fare in 1985 when the agency was founded.
As part of the fare restructure, a new premium fare category will be introduced in 2014. In addition, Capital Metro will restructure its contract deals with large employers and retail outlets that sell passes.
“Capital Metro has improved nearly every aspect of its business over the last few years, and financial transparency and stability are at the top of the list,” said Linda S. Watson, Capital Metro president/CEO. “While we’ve taken great strides to make our operations more efficient and our service more productive, we need to improve our fare structure, as well, to ensure we have the funds necessary to continue serving our rapidly growing community.”
Capital Metro’s board also voted to cut, by half, a proposed MetroAccess fare increase, and delay any increases until 2015. As part of the fare restructure, a new MetroAccess fare will be introduced, allowing customers the ability to purchase a single ride for $1.50 in 2014, rising to $1.75 in 2015. The original proposed changes included a single ride fare of $2 for 2014 and $2.50 for 2015 to the maximums allowed for ADA paratransit service under Federal Transit Administration guidelines.
Additionally beginning in spring 2014, Capital Metro will implement service changes designed to accommodate the new MetroRapid service, initiate the transition of service from Congress Avenue to Guadalupe/Lavaca in accordance with Service Plan 2020, improve access to the new MetroRapid Route 801, and accommodate changes to the University of Texas Shuttle system on the Cameron Road (CR) and Wickersham Lane (WL) Shuttle routes.
Capital Metro and The University of Texas will eliminate the WL Shuttle Route in spring 2014, migrating student riders to comparable service along mainline routes 20 Manor/Riverside and 100 MetroAirport.
Finally by a unanimous vote, the board of directors adopted a $283.7 million budget, which includes $207.3 million for operations; $59.4 million for capital improvements, including implementation of the new MetroRapid service; $12.5 million for interlocal agreements, and $4.5 million for long-term commitments.
In addition, the adopted budget includes a five-year capital improvement plan, which has been estimated at $157.3 million through 2018. The fiscal year 2014 budget takes effect Oct. 1, 2013.