Carroll transit considers increase for college fares

Carroll Community College students who use public transportation to commute to campus could soon see their bus fares double in some cases depending upon how many days they use the service.

The Carroll Area Transit System (CATS) is proposing a fare increase to the Student College Bus Fare that if approved would be effective in January. CATS introduced its proposal to the Board of Carroll County Commissioners Thursday.

The community college has not yet been made aware of the proposal, according to Louise Tinkler, CATS executive director.

Tinkler said this would be the first fare increase for the college program since 2011 and only the second increase since 1994.

The proposal is aimed at reducing the amount of money CATS loses each semester from the program.

During the 2013 spring semester, 25 students purchased bus passes for the college fare program. The actual fares collected for those trips would have been $11,704, but through the student program, CATS only collected $4,125, resulting in a loss of $7,579.

Students are currently charged based on their proximity to the college for the program.

For example, if a student lived within 10 miles of the college, they would be charged $150 for a semester long pass and if a student lived within 20-25 miles of the college, the student would be charged $200.

The new fare proposed by CATS would charge students based on their proximity to the college and the number of days they ride the bus.

For example, a student riding the bus four days a week, from a starting point located within five miles of the college would have paid $150 previously. Under the proposed fare, they would pay $224, which represents a 50 percent discount on the actual fare required for non-college riders.

But a student living within 10 to 15 miles of the college who rides the bus four days a week would see their fare more than double. Previously this student would have paid $175 for unlimited trips to the college, but under the new proposal, they would be required to pay $392.

CATS officials said they did not expect the fare increase to affect ridership.

Jodi Glock, CATS transportation grants coordinator, added that 25 riders per semester is about average.

Based on the spring semester ridership, CATS estimated that revenue to the agency from the student far program would rise from $4,125 to $7,399 if the proposal is approved.

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