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.
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