TARTA'S proposed rate hike is not only expected, it's practically overdue. The city's bus fare is the cheapest in the state, and since it has not increased in 13 years, it's difficult to begrudge TARTA an extra dime and a nickel in the basic fare from 85 cents to a dollar.
Of course, this means its other fares will also go up on Jan. 1, providing the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority agency's board of trustees approves the increase. The fare for senior and disabled citizens will go up 10 cents, to 50 cents a ride. Call-A-Ride's fare will also rise 10 cents, to 60 cents each time a senior citizen or disabled person uses the service.
TARPS, the Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service, is a door-to-door minibus service. Riders with disabilities that hinder them from using regular TARTA buses and who use TARPS will find the new rate to be $2 instead of $1.50. Also, weekly passes will cost $10, up from $8.50, while monthly rates will increase by $5, to $40.
These increases are necessary because of the steep rise in fuel and maintenance costs. TARTA's fuel costs exceeded its budget by $274,489, and its maintenance costs were $229,533 over budget through September. The proposed rate hike won't cover all of those additional expenses because it will generate only about a quarter of a million dollars.
Nevertheless, TARTA officials deserve credit for understanding how much an even larger increase could affect the citizens who depend on its service. It will be tough enough for some to pay a buck. Yet that fare will be the same or lower than some other Ohio cities, where it's $1, $1.25, or higher.
And it is a necessary service. Many TARTA riders don't have any other means of getting around, so they rely on the public buses for all their transportation needs. Others who don't always ride the buses are grateful TARTA's available when they need it.
Indeed, the rate increase will hurt some. But as one TARTA rider put it, it's still a better deal than driving a car.