VIA Metropolitan Transit (VIA) plans to change fares in 2016, including reducing the cost of a full fare day pass from $4 to $2.75 ($1.35 discounted) but raising the cost of other fares and passes.
Unlike increasing fares, reducing VIA fares is not governed by any rules. VIA picking $2.75 ($1.35 discounted) for a day pass is an odd choice for improving the speed of services -- by reducing cash handling and the need for transfers -- and increasing ridership, which has fallen as VIA has increased fares and complicated the process for seniors (62 and older) and students to get discounted fares.
VIA understands that simplifying (or removing) fares improves services and ridership. In 2015, VIA introduced a fare free downtown evening (6pm-midnight) 'entertainment circulator' route to support those driving to downtown venues such as the Tobin Center. VIA has made various expenditures to promote this 'free' service, which VIA is considering expanding in 2016.
VIA also knows that an affordable annual pass improves services and ridership. That's way corporations and full-time government employees in Bexar County are currently offered an annual pass that costs less than $80 a year. Meanwhile, the general public pays $420 full fare for a similar pass, purchased through monthly passes.
VIA understands that their operating costs have increased sharply in recent years while ridership and fare revenue has dropped. VIA collects less than $27m in fares each year currently -- or not even a dollar from each of the estimated 31m visitors to San Antonio annually. Meanwhile, operating costs now top $200m and have grown by over 6% (or approximately $14m) in recent years. New riders have no idea what a VIA bus will cost, how to pay (cash only; no change) or which bus services might be fare free - discouraging ridership and delaying current services.
VIA was the best transit system in North America when their fares were simple. Please tell VIA to simplify fares in 2016 -- to reduce operating costs, speed services and increase ridership and fare revenue collected (aiming for more than $27m in fares and passes in $2016).
Make VIA the '$2 / $1 bus' (day pass) for visitors and residents and promote it as such. Offer a substantially discounted annual EZ rider pass to all Bexar County residents ($80 or less) including part-time students - not just corporations and full-time government workers. Offer fare free service without qualifications to senior citizens.
SIGN THIS iPETITION to tell VIA to #SimplifyFares: