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.

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.”

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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.”

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