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Riders exit a Solano Express bus at the Fairfield Transportation Center, Monday afternoon. A new study shows that the Fairfield and Suisun Transit will need more money in coming years and one possible source is having parking fees at Fairfield park-and-ride lots. (Adam Smith/Daily Republic File 2013)

Solano County

Bus fare hikes could be coming

By From page A5 | January 08, 2014

SUISUN CITY — Fairfield and Suisun Transit riders could see fares increase for many routes in coming months.

Local route bus fares could rise from $1.50 to $1.75. Fares for Route 90 from Fairfield and Suisun City to the El Cerrito del Norte BART station could rise from $5.75 to $6.50. Some routes could see no increases.

The spotlight will initially fall on Route 90 and on Route 30 from Fairfield to Sacramento. Fairfield and Suisun Transit must get approval from the Solano Transportation Authority to make fare changes on these two regional routes.

Fairfield and Suisun Transit also runs Route 40 to the Walnut Creek BART station and Route 20 between Fairfield and Vacaville. It can raise fares on these routes without the permission of the Solano Transportation Authority, but must still notify the agency.

On Wednesday, Fairfield and Suisun Transit will ask the Solano Transportation Authority Board of Directors for authorization to hold public outreach hearings for the proposed Route 90 and Route 30 fare changes. The agency meets in the Suisun City Council Chamber, 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Workshops for the proposed increases would follow. Fairfield and Suisun Transit would then return to the Solano Transportation Authority board with recommendations for the regional route changes on Feb. 12 and go to the City Council to approve all of the fare changes on Feb. 18, Fairfield Assistant Public Works Director for Transportation Wayne Lewis said.

Reasons for the proposed increases range from making up for increases that Fairfield and Suisun Transit declined to seek during the recession to a recent short-range transit study that said increases are needed for sustainability, Lewis said.

“There’s a convergence of several things,” Lewis said.

An additional factor is Fairfield and Suisun Transit’s plan to start offering the Clipper card this fall for Bay Area regional routes. The Clipper card is a transit pass card that can be used on multiple routes, such as BART and Muni. Fairfield and Suisun Transit must make some fare changes to integrate with the Clipper system.

“It’s a pretty flexible instrument and really helps people who are commuting and using multiple systems,” Lewis said.

A Solano Transportation Authority report said that the proposed fare changes should be considered in light of any proposed parking fee at the Fairfield Transportation Center.

The Fairfield Transportation Center is located on Cadenasso Road and has 640 parking spaces. It is routinely full, to the annoyance of commuters who can’t find a space there. The regional bus routes and car pools and van pools leave from the center.

Fairfield has yet to refine proposals for a parking fee, Lewis said. A guiding principle is to have a discount for bus riders. That would encourage car pool and van pool users to use a park-and-ride lot that the city plans to open on Oliver Road in late September or October, Lewis said.

But the city doesn’t want to put the Transportation Center parking fee in place until it opens the Oliver Road park-and-ride lot, he said.

Bus fare increases could reduce system-wide bus ridership by 5 percent, a Solano Transportation Authority report said. Intercity ridership could decrease 3 percent to 9 percent and local bus ridership 2 percent to 4 percent, it said.

“Typically when you raise fares, fewer people will ride but your overall income will go up,” Lewis said.

But he doesn’t think any decreases for intercity bus ridership would be as high as the estimates, Lewis said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Discussion | 3 comments

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  • Suisun1January 07, 2014 - 7:57 am

    Didn't the DR just run an article about how FAST is underperforming as a city contractor (see March 15, 2013 article "Contractor struggles to deliver public bus service")? And now FAST is interested in raising rider fees for a service it can't even provide? Sounds like a MONEY GRAB placed on the shoulders of hard-working commuters of Fairfield and Solano who already pay a premium for poor service.

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  • F. AstisnutsJanuary 07, 2014 - 11:22 am

    Okay, raise it enough and I will take Amtrak instead. Why should I have to pay an additional $1.50/day for the convenience of using a Clipper card that I do not even want? I will say, however, that the 90 route is very reliable, but c'mon, forget about raising rates partly due to the Clipper tracking system.

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  • toriJanuary 08, 2014 - 6:26 pm

    i hope the city doesn't raise fares to much..if they do they need to do it over a 3 year stretch. i like riding route 30 and 90 buses, they are very comfortable to ride compared to other area coaches.

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