It’s been more than three decades since the price to ride the bus in Springfield has gone up but that could change soon if city commissioners approve a new plan.
Commissioners are scheduled to vote at the end of the month on whether to increase fares on the Springfield City Area Transit buses from the current 75 cents per ride to $1.
Like several riders waiting for a bus Thursday afternoon at the bus center in front of the Heritage Center on West High Street in downtown Springfield, Todd Sells said he needs the bus service every day.
“I don’t have a vehicle so it’s my only mode of transportation,” the Springfield father said.
Many riders said the price hike isn’t too much to handle and were surprised to hear the city hasn’t increased fares since 1984.
“It’s worth it,” said Angela Haylock of the extra quarter she’ll have to spend on her bus ride that she takes once or twice a week. “I’ll just have to get more quarters, I guess.”
The SCAT buses saw more than 258,000 riders last year and averaged about 21,500 passengers per month.
Even with the fare hike, Springfield’s buses will be cheaper than other cities’ services, said Joe Howard, who rides the bus several times a week.
“Go over to Columbus and check out their rates — Oh baby!” he said.
A one-way fare on the Columbus bus is $2, according to the service’s website, and in Dayton a ride costs $1.75.
Th city is also considering other changes, like combined and updated routes and extended hours. The bus currently operates 11 fixed routes from 6:40 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The changes would result in seven routes with some that would run through 6:35 p.m., according to the city ordinance that went through a first reading earlier this week.
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.
“Many people need that transportation to keep their jobs,” said Ricardo Powers, who was waiting for a bus Thursday.
Other routes would makes stops twice per hour at places that now only have one stop per hour, according to the new plan.
Some riders, like Derrick Fudge, said they still want more out of the city’s bus service for the increased price — specifically weekend routes.
“Make it seven days a week,” he said.
The city wants to provide weekend hours for residents, Springfield Finance Director Mark Beckdahl has said before, but doesn’t have that in its budget now.