Bus fare hike getting public review

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AUBURN — Bus riders and other members of the public are being invited to comment on a proposed 20 percent rate hike for Lewiston-Auburn’s Citylink bus system.

“There has been so much financial volatility since 2008, and fuel prices have gone up so much,” said Phil Nadeau, chairman of the Lewiston-Auburn Transit Committee. “Costs have been spiking and that’s been driving this.”

The committee is hosting two public hearings Wednesday, May 25. The first is scheduled for 1 p.m. in Auburn Hall. The second is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in Lewiston City Hall.

Committee members first announced the increase during budget discussions with the Lewiston and Auburn city councils last month.

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The proposed increase would raise regular fares to $1.50, with corresponding 20 percent increases for all of the passes and fare discounts. That would increase fare box revenue by about $17,000.

“Based on the feedback we’ve gotten from people that actually spend time on the bus, there has not been a lot of push back,” Nadeau said. “People seem to understand what’s been going on with fuel prices and they’ve said this seems fair.”

The LATC currently charges a normal rate of $1.25 for each ride, but offers significant discounts and free daily shuttles downtown and around the Auburn Mall.

Bus fares haven’t changed since the 2006-2007 season. Nadeau said the fare increase that year led to a 7 percent drop-off in ridership.

The Citylink system has come off its best year ever for ridership results.

“We’re budgeting for that same kind of drop-off this year, but you never know,” Nadeau said. “It’s a different time. Fuel prices were not doing what they are now. So, maybe this time won’t be as bad. But still, we’d still rather be conservative in what we forecast.”

staylor@sunjournal.com

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