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TARC Approves Fare Increases, Service Reductions Under Review

The board of directors for the Transit Authority of River City approved across-the-board fare increases that will take effect July 1 to help offset a projected $4.6 million budget shortfall.

Base fare for a one-way trip will increase from $1.50 to $1.75 and a monthly pass will cost $50 compared to the current $42 rate. The cost for individuals with disabilities who use TARC3 services will also go up from $2.50 to $3.00.

TARC Executive Director Barry Barker says riders are rightfully concerned, but those upset with the increase need to pressure elected leaders in Metro and state government as well as lawmakers in Washington.

"Essentially what I've told people is make noise. If this is hurting tell us about it, and tell your elected officials about it. Let us know what you need," he says.

TARC proposed the fare increases last month to fill the deficit, along with service reductions that include the elimination of nine express routes. The proposals to cut those services and other routes are still under review.

The agency's long-term plan calls for proper financing and political support, which officials say would provide a broader range of transportation options that respond to changing demographics and rider preferences. The city funds TARC through the occupational tax, and the transit system also receives funding from the state and federal government.

"The reality is, is no one wants to talk about taxes. So what we need to do is talk about how we're going to finance public transportation at the Washington level, state level and local level and certainly in terms of user fees, i.e. fares," says Barker.

Officials were pleased the state legislature restored funding to its 2008 levels in this year's General Assembly, but the agency is still in need of additional funds.

TARC tickets and passes reflecting the new prices will be available for purchase in mid-June online and at other locations that now sell TARC tickets and passes.