PAT bus fares to go up
By James Peacemaker, Jr. Managing Editor
Oct 9, 2013, 14:27
PETERSBURG — City Council unanimously approved an across-the-board rate increase for bus fares while also greatly boosting rates for two routes that go outside of the city.
Most riders using the Petersburg Area Transit system will see rates go from $1.50 to $1.75, while rates on the route to Virginia State University will go up to $3.50, and rates on the route to Southpark Mall in Colonial Heights will go up to $2.50.
While the change was approved unanimously Tuesday night, it will take a while for the rates to go into effect because they have to be advertised for at least a month before changing due to federal regulations.
Other changes included reducing the transfer time from two hours to one hour to keep people from reusing the tickets. They also eliminated the extended hour of bus service on Friday and Saturday evenings, which was only averaging three riders a day.
The changes were needed to close a half-million dollar budget gap.
The changes for the VSU route also include eliminating Saturday service, since there were so few riders. It will also use a van and reduce stops to four times a day: 7:15 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m., and 5:15 p.m. The times are based on the peak hours for riders. The route is expected to cost about $25,000 a year while bringing in $17,000 in revenue.
Changes for the Southpark Mall route will reduce stops to eight times a day: 6:30 a.m., 10:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 1:15 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 3:15 p.m., 4:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. The route will cost $134,000 to operate while bringing in $65,000 in revenue.
Together, the city is expected to lose about $77,000 a year by operating these two routes that run outside of the city.
The new rate structure backs off of a plan presented in June that would have boosted rates for VSU to $5 and rates for Southpark Mall to $4, making them self-sufficient. At the June council meeting more than 30 people spoke out against the plan, saying they relied on the routes to get to work or school and needed them to be self-sufficient.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, only a few people spoke out against the plan, some saying the routes should be flat across the board while others wanted small changes.