The Sacramento Regional Transit District (RTD) reduced its daily student fare following several articles in the Sacramento Bee deeming the fares too high.
The RTD has been working with Area Congregation Together (ACT) for more than one year to develop a reasonable fare standard. Mike Wiley, director of community services at the RTD, said that the newspaper articles had nothing to do with the fare decrease. In fact, he said, some editorials were sent into the Bee from readers who thought students already were getting enough of a discount.
Beginning in October, the new fare for students was changed to 75 cents, half the adult fare price of $1.50, and is available to all school-age children.
The RTD also offers students a monthly pass for $27, which is about half the price of a regular monthly pass, $55. Paying the monthly fee saves students money overall, but being able to pay the sum at one time is too expensive for some families. The RTD is making the monthly pass available on a semi-monthly basis – giving families the option to pay $13.50 twice a month.
Despite the decrease, ACT continues to push for a lower monthly fare. The RTD and Sacramento Unified School District ran a pilot program from March to June to determine if reduced fares encouraged more students to travel to school via transit more often. The monthly fare was reduced to $10 at a high school and a middle school.
“We saw a pretty significant increase in the monthly pass sales [at the school sites],” said Wiley. However, the schools could not determine an increase in attendance.
“It’s hard to say if that was simply because of the time of the year,” said Wiley. “From our standpoint, we saw an increase in sales, but not a correlation in terms of attendance.”
The RTD decided to reduce the daily cash fare to eliminate the discrepancy between student fares and continues to analyze the effects of reducing the monthly student fare.
The RTD’s service area covers a number of school districts, most of which provide students with home to school transportation. The Sacramento Unified School District does not provide this service for its middle and high school students.
“They basically depend on us for 100% of that transportation,” said Wiley. “They do not share in the cost of that at all.”
One of the RTD’s concerns is offering equitable fares for students without compromising the services it provides other transit riders. “There’s a recognition that any reduction in fare revenue is likely to result in cutbacks in some other area or some other increase in the cost of fares in another category,” said Wiley.