Algernon D’Ammassa, Las Cruces Sun-News
Published 5:58 a.m. MT Aug. 7, 2019
LAS CRUCES – Las Cruces city councilors approved a proposal Monday by Mayor Ken Miyagishima to allocate $100,000 as a further subsidy of rides on Roadrunner Transit’s Dial-a-Ride service for senior citizens and riders with disabilities.
The action transfers $100,000 to the city’s Transit Fund, allowing the transit authority to offer the halved rate through the 2020 fiscal year.
That means all riders currently paying a one-way fare of $2 to use the service will now pay $1 instead.
On July 1, senior citizens who had ridden free for 22 years were asked to pay $2 each way. Riders with disabilities were already paying the fare.
Support local journalism that makes a difference: Subscribe to the Las Cruces Sun-News today.
Dial-a-Ride service allows approved users to schedule curb-to-curb rides on a wheelchair-accessible shuttle, without restrictions on the destination. Rides to city-operated senior centers were still provided for free once the fare went into effect.
City Transit Administrator Mike Bartholomew told councilors each Dial-a-Ride trip cost an average of $23.12 in 2018. For comparison, Bartholomew said the cost of a ride on fixed route bus service per passenger was $5.40.
Up to 2010, fares for senior citizens had been wholly subsidized, after which the city simply absorbed the cost.
Bartholomew said ways to manage the expense under consideration included finding partner grants or agencies to provide funding, and to reduce expenses by providing incentives to encourage users who can use regular bus service to do so.
Councilor Gregory Z. Smith expressed concern that the introduction of the fare impacted the budgets of some senior citizens more than others.
“We have people who have been able to use this system, maybe who could afford to pay more to ride on this system, but we also have people whose budgets are going to be seriously impacted,” he said.
Smith asked to table the mayor’s resolution so that council could gather data and consider various approached to apply fares equitably. “Simply reducing the ride cost by a dollar might not reach all the people we need to,” he said.
Councilor Kasandra Gandara asked about destinations, noting that some trips — such as for medical appointments — may be reimbursable through programs such as Medicaid.
Under questioning by Smith, assistant city manager David Dollahan recommended leaving the present fees in place through the new fiscal year and gathering data before making another change, since riders change their habits in response to costs. He suggested studying the impact of Dial-a-Ride fares through the year, and assessment of service gaps through a short-range transit plan, would provide councilors with more context.
Smith supported that suggestion and for that reason voted no on the mayor’s resolution. The other councilors voted in favor, however, passing the proposal 6-1.
Read or Share this story: https://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/local/2019/08/07/las-cruces-reduces-dial-ride-fares-1-dollar-senior-citizens-disabled-riders/1938440001/
Aug. 6, 2019, 6:19 p.m.
Aug. 6, 2019, 12:15 p.m.
Aug. 5, 2019, 2 p.m.
Aug. 5, 2019, 12:51 p.m.
Aug. 5, 2019, 6:52 p.m.
Aug. 6, 2019, 5:43 p.m.