The cost of using Riverside’s special transportation service, which takes seniors and disabled people to shopping trips and doctor visits, will go up Sept. 1.
Rides have cost $2 since 2006, but city officials said they would have to subsidize or discontinue the program if it doesn’t bring in more money.
Riverside City Council members expressed reluctance before voting Tuesday, Aug. 8, to raise fares to $3 per ride. Medical trips would remain at $2.
Since the special transportation program was created in 1975, it has grown from five buses to a fleet of 35 compressed natural gas buses plus a car and a van that provide an average of more than 600 rides a day, a city report states.
But the program is understaffed and underfunded, which has caused an increasing number of late trips. Officials considered increasing fares in 2015 but delayed doing so because of concerns about the effect on low-income residents.
Council members said Tuesday they’re still not happy about raising fares, but said it must be done to continue providing a service upon which many depend.
“If we don’t bump up the fare, we potentially lose this program,” City Councilman Mike Soubirous said.
The council could have kept fares the same and taken $171,000 from the city’s general fund to pay for the program, or increased the cost by 50 cents and made up the other $94,500 from the general fund.
But council members said taking general fund money would require a cut somewhere else, and raising the cost by anything other than a whole dollar would cause complications for drivers, who would have to carry change for those paying cash.
Riverside’s new fare, which is a flat rate, will be on par with the least expensive trip with Riverside Transit Agency’s Dial-A-Ride service.
NEED A RIDE?
Riverside’s special transportation program serves senior and disabled city residents.
What: Riders can schedule trips to doctor visits, shopping and other outings.
When: The service runs from 8 a.m. to…