Bus rates going up in Fayette
Author: Amy Zalar
Date: June 7, 2008
It's a fact. The cost of public transit in Fayette County is about to increase.
During a public hearing at the Fayette Area Coordinated Transportation public transit center on Friday, Lori Groover-Smith of the FACT office said a small fare increase for public buses is planned for the fixed route services for the upcoming fiscal year, as well as an increase to the paratransit transportation fares. Groover-Smith said while the base public transit fare is now $1.25, it is slated to increase to $1.40, with other fares also set to rise about 12 percent as well.
The fixed route to Pittsburgh price will also increase, with the base cost jumping from $5.60 to $7.85, Groover-Smith said. Monthly passes will rise from $40 to $45 and a monthly Pittsburgh pass will increase from $200 to $225, Groover-Smith said.
Regarding paratransit transportation services, which include medical assistance, shared ride and welfare to work subsidized programs, Groover-Smith said "$2 per fare" increases are also planned.
Operations manager Stella Rebitch said the only changes regarding services are that one of the Pittsburgh routes, the 10:30 a.m. route, will be dropped, and an additional Saturday route will be added for the Masontown bus, with plans to stop at the Shop 'N Save.
Michelle Grant Shumar, director of the Fayette County Office of Human and Community Services and FACT, said the proposed increases are slated to commence on July 1 to coincide with the fiscal year.
Shumar said the operations budget, which totals $1,463,132 from federal ($623,150), state ($500,082) and local ($339,900) sources, covers routes for the communities of Uniontown, Connellsville, Hopwood, Farmington, Brownsville, Republic, Perryopolis, Masontown and Fairchance. A commuter route to and from Pittsburgh, begun in late 2006, will continue. FACT has about 40 vehicles and 28 employees.
Monthly riders on the Pittsburgh route have steadily increased, and now stand at about 963, Rebitch said.
For the fixed route riders, a chart shows ridership has increased from about 100,000 in 2006 to 120,000 in 2007.
Shumar said FACT has also received capital financing totaling $274,523 from federal, state and local sources that will be used for purchase of a staff vehicle as well as vehicle locators that will be used on board to transmit the location of all the FACT vehicles back to the server at the transit center. Maintenance employees who need to get on the scene if there is a breakdown or accident, Shumar said, will use the staff vehicle.
Also, Shumar said plans are to install bus shelters and bus stops throughout the county. She said six used shelters have already been obtained and are being renovated.
A request of federal money has been made for construction of an additional bus storage facility near the park and ride lot at the transit center at the Joseph A. Hardy/Connellsville Airport, Shumar said.
"We have so many vehicles we have run out of storage space," Shumar said.
Currently, FACT vehicles going to the transit center are filled with fuel, washed and stored until the next morning.
Rebitch said the goal is that buses are either on time or within six minutes and there is a 93 percent effective rate. Additionally, she said the buses are cleaned weekly and drivers undergo extensive background checks and training. Regarding complaints, she said plans are to respond to every complaint within days.
Ray McDonald said a user's guide is being established for distribution soon.
Shumar said proposals have been received for subcontractors interested in providing services for FACT and the five proposals would be evaluated and proposals will be made to the Fayette County commissioners soon. Shumar said in the past, there has been a mixture of for profit and non-profits providers that have worked in conjunction with FACT.
After the public hearing, one of six new $300,000 buses that will be used for routes beginning July 1, including the Pittsburgh trip. The buses, which have seating for about 25 and standing room for eight, feature brightly colored seats and lighting inside.