FAIRFIELD — Betty Evans of Suisun City sat on a bench at the Fairfield Transportation Center on Wednesday at about 1:30 p.m. waiting for the bus, unaware that a rate increase could be on the way.
“I take (the bus) all the time because I don’t drive,” she said, shopping bags by her side.
Local routes as of July 1 could see fares rise 25 cents, to $1.75. Evans said such an increase would affect her.
“Yes, that’s kind of expensive,” Evans said.
But Fairfield and Suisun Transit officials said fare increases are needed. Operating costs have increased 18 percent over five years, while fares have remained the same, they said.
“I guess if they have to, they have to,” Evans said.
Fairfield and Suisun Transit on Wednesday wrapped up three workshops in three days to provide information on the proposed bus fare increases. The latest session at the Fairfield Transportation Center lasted from 1 to 8 p.m. People could drop in at any time.
Transportation officials said 19 people showed up for Monday’s workshop and three for Tuesday’s. Nobody showed up for Wednesday’s during the first half-hour.
Bus riders will get still more chances to comment. The Solano Transportation Authority on Feb. 12 will conduct a hearing on proposed intercity route fare increases. The City Council will conduct a public hearing Feb. 18 to consider passing the proposed fare increases.
Akili Muhammad of Fairfield stood at the Transportation Center at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday waiting for the Route 90 bus to the El Cerrito del Norte Bay Area Rapid Transit station. The Route 90 fares could rise 75 cents, to $6.50.
A Fairfield and Suisun Transit information sheet said the system postponed making fare increases during the Great Recession.
“There’s still a recession,” Muhammad said.
He’s also heard about a city proposal to at some point start charging for parking at the Fairfield Transportation Center, with a maximum fee of $5. You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, he said.
He went to the Monday workshop and about seven people showed up while he was there, Muhammad said.
“A lot of people are still unaware this is going on,” Muhammad said.
One reason for the proposed intercity route fare changes is to have a fare structure compatible with that used by the Clipper system. Clipper is a transit pass card that can be used on multiple Bay Area transit systems, such as BART and Muni.
Meanwhile, several other things are going on that will affect Fairfield and Suisun Transit.
Fairfield’s contract with MV Transportation to operate the buses expires in June. The city put out a request for proposals for potential operators that was due Jan. 23. The City Council in coming months will award a new contract.
Also, the city is doing a study that looks at the pros and cons of merging the local bus service with SolTrans. SolTrans runs buses in Vallejo and Benicia.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.