SLO City Council to consider transit fare hike Tuesday

The San Luis Obispo City Council will be asked Tuesday to increase bus fares and eliminate free transfers starting Sept. 1.

The proposed rate increases will raise fares for the public by 20 percent to $1.50 from $1.25 and by 25 percent for senior citizens and disabled riders to 75 cents from 60 cents.

The changes will also include charging Cal Poly students and faculty to ride the evening bus, which will decrease the cost to the public. That change will drop the cost to $1 for the public and to 50 cents for seniors.

The Mass Transportation Committee is recommending the increases to offset a $127,000 operating budget deficit attributed to stagnant ridership and reductions in state funding.

The fare increases and other changes will save the city about $60,000 a year.

Fares were last increased in 2009. About 1 million riders use SLO Transit buses annually, and 600,000 of them are Cal Poly students.

Cal Poly is paying the city $351,000 this fiscal year for its students to ride the bus for free. That agreement will continue with the new plan to charge students for evening service.

In June, the council agreed to put the city’s trolley weekend service on hiatus for a year starting in September to save $26,249. The Downtown Trolley currently operates from Thursday through Sunday along Monterey Street and the downtown district for a 25-cent fare. The trolley will run only Thursdays starting Sept. 1 under the new plan.

John Webster, the city’s transit manager, said discussions are ongoing with the city’s promotions committee and the Tourism Business Improvement District Board to find a way to raise money to continue the trolley during peak use times on the weekends.

The council will meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Council Chambers, 990 Palm St.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939.