On April 12, I attended a City Council meeting hearing where SunTran transit fare increases were being voted upon.
The reason for a fare increase in the first place was a decline in SunTran funding –> a result of City of Tucson cuts –> a result of the Great Recession. Basically, it came down to service cuts vs. fare increases. Most people, including me, agreed fare increases were a better compromise than service cuts.
The meeting was quite crowded. Many people spoke at the meeting, with the vast majority complaining about the increase of the low income fare from 40 cents to 60 cents. They argued that all the other fare increase were only by a margin of 25%, while the lower income fare increase was by a margin of 50%. The City Council, after some debate, agreed and decided to raise all fares across the board by 25%. However, this means that there is still a budget gap to be filled.
Two other important items arose:
1) Many city council member discussed the need for SunTran to do more advertising so they could gain more advertising revenue. The city councilors agreed that this was a good idea.
2) Councilor Romero recommended the development of a long term, 5 year plan for SunTran. This is a fantastic idea and it is hard to believe a long-term plan for SunTran does not currently exist. This is also a fantastic opportunity for the Living Streets Alliance to influence progressive long-term transit policy in Tucson.