By Cecilia Chan
Passengers on Glendale’s Dial-A-Ride could pay higher fares later this year under a proposal moving forward at City Hall.
The proposal would affect 74,256 passengers, the bulk being seniors, people with disabilities and those who are certified under the Americans with Disabilities Act. They would see their fares increase by $1. Dial-A-Ride fares were last adjusted in 1991.
“After 26 years I think it’s time that we do something,” said Mayor Jerry Weiers, who first raised this issue in August. “I don’t think this is drastic. Obviously (it) could make a difference in some people’s lives but overall all our citizens will benefit from this.”
In late February the City Council last week gave the go-ahead to move the proposal to public meetings in April. The issue will then return to a council workshop in May with final action scheduled in June. If approved, the fares would go into effect 30 days later.
Dial-A-Ride fares generated $92,016 for the city in fiscal year 2015-16. The proposed increase is expected to bring in an additional $23,907.
Council also gave the green light on a proposal to eliminate the fare to ride Glendale Urban Shuttle or GUS, which takes residents to local destinations such as downtown and Glendale Community College. Currently the general public pays 25 cents and seniors and people with disabilities who ride between 10 a.m.-2 p.m., pay 10 cents.
Kevin Link, transit administrator, said counting all the quarters is labor intensive and not accepting fares would mean shorter boarding times, which means better customer service. It takes longer to count the fare for the three GUS routes than it does to for the 16 Dial-ARide routes, he said.
Additionally, he said ridership for GUS has been trending downward. In fiscal year 2016, GUS saw just under 91,000 riders, down from 116,000 in fiscal year 2014, he added.
GUS is one of two neighborhood transports out of the 17 in the region that charge a fare, according to the city.
Both Dial-A-Ride and GUS services are subsidized.
Should the hike go into effect and the GUS fare is eliminated the transit budget is expected to see an increase of $2,231. The current year transit budget is $2.9 million.
Council members generally were in support of the proposal to hike fares.
“I think that the time has come to take a more realistic look at this and I support your proposal,” Councilwoman Joyce Clark said.
Councilman Jamie Aldama, however, expressed reservations.
“I just have a concern with raising the rates to that extent,” he said. Without more data on how the increase would affect vulnerable riders such as those on Social Security, he said he did not feel comfortable at this time to support the proposal.
Councilwoman Lauren Tolmachoff said the increase would be a hardship on some riders but that there were resources available to help.
Mr. Link noted some trips are subsidized for riders. For example, the Kidney Foundation subsidizes the trips for patients going to dialysis, he said “I don’t believe we will see any dramatic decline in ridership,” Mr. Link said. “And any decline we will see will be temporary.”