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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, May 23, 2003

Bus service may be cut even with hike in fare

By Johnny Brannon
Advertiser Staff Writer

The city's transportation director warned yesterday that even with a bus fare increase, proposed budget cuts could force reductions in service.

The City Council's plan to raise bus fares comes two years after an earlier fare hike failed to bring in as much money as projected. The council wants to raise adult fares from $1.50 to $1.75, and expects the increase to generate an extra $1.7 million a year to help offset a $3 million general fund budget cut.

But Department of Transportation Services director Cheryl Soon said the fare hike would likely bring in only about $1.4 million, leaving a $300,000 gap that would shut some buses down. The council failed to consider that more bus riders buy monthly passes when fares for single trips are raised, and the passes bring in less money per trip, Soon said. Ridership could also decline, she said.

When fares were raised in 2001 from $1 to $1.50, about 34 percent of cash riders switched to monthly passes, Soon said. That fare hike was expected to generate an extra $5.6 million the first year, but took in only $3.6 million when ridership plummeted.

The administration earlier proposed to increase the price of monthly passes from $27 to $30, which the council is expected to approve. Some minor bus service cuts were planned, and the gap left after the budget cuts would lead to others, Soon said..

The council budget committee is scheduled to vote on the fare increase today.