CARTA board tables bus fare increase

The CARTA board met Wednesday to review the results of a bus fare increase analysis. @Photo credit: File photo

Cash customers for the area bus service are staying away in larger-than-expected numbers, prompting expressions of concern Wednesday at a Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority board meeting.

“This is a number that I think this board must watch very carefully,” said board member Patterson Smith.

“It has been a cancer on our budget,” Smith said.

The CARTA board on Wednesday tabled a 10-cent bus fare increase.

Hiking bus fare by a dime would create a $150,000 increase in annual revenue based on current ridership. But based on historical trends, the 10-cent fare increase would mean a 4 percent decrease in ridership. If that were to happen, the increased ridership would generate $144,000. The cost of updates to CARTA maps and publications would be $45,000, cutting the increased revenue even further.

So far this year, CARTA has received about 5 percent less revenue than expected from customers who pay when they board the bus. Seven months into the current budget year, $1.4 million has been received from customers who pay at the bus farebox.

CARTA has three types of cash, one-way fares ranging from $1.75 to $3. It also offers passes that can be purchased for up to 31 days. Pass revenue is slightly down but not as much as farebox revenue.

Read more in tomorrow’s print editions