Go West Transit, the transit system for Western Illinois University (WIU) and the surrounding community in Macomb, Ill., has eliminated fares on all of its routes, making it the only fare-free, fixed-route system in the state.
Jude Kiah, director of Go West, said the decision to abolish fares affected four of the system’s 12 routes. The eight other routes already were fare-free.
Kiah said the revenue generated by those four routes was relatively small, especially after Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich eliminated bus fares for seniors and the disabled earlier this year. “With the categories that were eliminated from fares by the governor, we estimated we would collect only $3,500 a year,” he said.
Rather than risk placing a financial burden on citizens who might not be able to afford even 50 cents for a one-way ride, the Macomb City Council voted Oct. 20 to eliminate the fare. “Eliminating fares on the city routes was the right thing to do for all of the passengers who frequent the system,” Kiah said. “There really was no financial reason to continue to collect fares.”
Kiah said the system, which provides 55,000 rides per week, receives local funds of approximately $650,000. “We will not have to worry about that kind of lost revenue,” he said. WIU students are not affected by the elimination of fares because they already ride for free.