By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
The Regional Transportation District tonight will begin holding public hearings to address a proposed fare increase that would begin in 2011.
Transit riders are already concerned that the increase will impact the ridership’s most vulnerable population, including disabled citizens living on a short fixed income.
The proposed increase includes:
— 25-cent increase for local regular cash fares;
— 50-cent increase for Express and Regional cash fares, and;
— $1 increase for SkyRide cash fares.
RTD officials say the increase is necessary to help close an estimated $12 million budget shortfall.
Budget analysts for the transit agency say there are two primary areas where the district is losing revenue: sales tax and passenger fares.
Sales tax revenues account for 69 percent of those revenues while passenger fares account for 30 percent, and advertising revenues and other sources account for an estimated 1 percent.
Because sales tax revenues continue to remain below what is needed to support current service levels, which has required the development of a fiscal action plan to address the projected deficit, RTD officials do not forecast an immediate boost to operating revenues.
Outside the bus stop Friday at 21st and Broadway, two disabled transit riders expressed their concern for any raise in fare. With assistance checks as low as $200 per month, Denver’s most indigent population often suffers the worst, said Mike Basnett, a Denver resident living on disability, and Michelle Wold, a Denver resident who is living on a short fixed income because of a disability she suffered.
“I don’t get much money,” said Basnett. “I’d be kind of irritated. I wouldn’t be able to take as many trips.”
He added that he uses transit for such core functions as going to the pharmacy and to doctors appointments.
“It would be a hardship,” said Wold, outside the Stout Street Clinic in Denver’s downtown Ballpark neighborhood.
“I understand, I do understand,” she said of RTD’s need to fill a continuing budget shortfall, as well a close a $2.5 billion gap in the FasTracks light rail and bus expansion project budget. “But, I can’t get anywhere for $40 a month. I can see their point, we need FasTracks, we needed it 10 years ago, we need RTD, we can’t afford to lose RTD, and so at the same time, I guess you have to suck it up.”
Public hearings to address the fare increase begin tonight in Littleton, Westminster and Aurora, and will continue across the metro area through Sept. 24.
The RTD Board of Directors says it will review public comment before making a final decision on the fare increase on Oct. 26.
Comments can be e-mailed or faxed to:
All comments must be received by Sept. 26.
For a list of public hearings and additional information, visit RTD-Denver.com/proposedfareincrease.