The Springfield City Area Transit service will see increased fares and new routes later this year for the first time in over 30 years.
City Commissioners unanimously approved changes to the bus service at Tuesday’s meeting, including increased fares, new routes and longer hours. The changes will go into effect on May 31.
The fares – which hadn’t been increased since 1984 – will increase from $.75 to $1. The new fare structure will also eliminate transfers, meaning it will cost an additional fare to change routes.
The SCAT service changes will also update routes and extend hours for riders. The bus currently operates 11 fixed routes from 6:40 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. Monday through Friday. Beginning in May, the service will operate seven routes with some that would run through 6:35 p.m.
The new routes combine some of the old ones, and would add areas that buses didn’t reach before, like parts of North Limestone Street. Routes to Prime Ohio Corporate Park would run every hour instead of by request only. Other routes would makes stops twice per hour at places that now only have one stop per hour, according to the new plan.
The city gave careful consideration to fee increases, said Springfield finance director Mark Beckdahl, and allowed for comments on the proposed changes at public meetings in January.
“We really got no negative feedback,” Beckdahl said.
The extension of the hours and route changes will be positive, including allowing individuals to ride to work or school at several prominent locations, including Prime Ohio I, he said.
“Someone will be able to get down to the Market Square bus center and get home,” Beckdahl said. “I think that’s key.”
Sonia Troxell, 77, of Springfield, uses the bus service about three times per week, she said.
“I think as long as we keep having the bus service, it’s reasonable enough for me,” Troxell said. “I couldn’t go anywhere if I didn’t have the bus.”
She said she’ll be able to handle the .15-cent per ride increase coming for seniors.
“Without the bus service, I’d be in a bad place,” Troxell said.
Charles Sells, 48, of Springfield, rides the bus every day. With the new routes and extended hours, Sells will have the capability to go more places, he said.
“It’ll be a little more convenient instead of everything shutting off at 5:30,” Sells said.
Sells hopes to see weekend hours in the future, he said.
“It would be nice to be able to go shopping and other places,” Sells said.
SCAT bus driver Rocky Harrison said the fare changes are needed, but without transfers included as part of the ticket, it’s going to cost double for patrons to change routes.
“They haven’t (increased) it in so long,” said Harrison, who has worked in Springfield for about three years. “It is what it is. I wish they’d bring back the transfers.”
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