The Maui News - Maui County Council members brought back one-way fares and dropped $1 from a proposed $5 daily pass for public bus riders as part of the recently approved initial 2013 budget.
Instead of eliminating single-ride fares and instituting a $5 daily use fee as had been proposed, the council advanced an increase in one-way fares from $1 to $2 and a hike in day passes from $2 to $4. Monthly passes would be $45 for adults, $30 for students, $25 for seniors on fixed routes and $30 for seniors on disabled-access buses.
The change in bus fares came after council members heard complaints from more than a half-dozen bus riders. They said the increases were too steep and came without proper notification with postings in buses.
Councilmember Mike Victorino proposed amending the bus fares as a way to "encourage ridership and maintain affordable rate options for those riders who may not currently utilize public transit frequently enough to purchase a monthly pass."
He called his amendment a "compromise" and a way to "help those who are most in need."
According to Budget Director Sandy Baz, the county's bus system has been heavily subsidized since the transit service began in fiscal 2007. In fiscal 2011, the county took in $1.8 million in fares, but transit operations alone (not counting bus purchases or the construction of bus stops) cost $7.8 million. This fiscal year, the county forecasts fare revenue of $1.9 million and costs of nearly $8.5 million. The county's highways fund receives revenue from a 16-cent-per-gallon tax on sales of fuel.
All agreed a more comprehensive examination of the system was needed.
The council has until June 10 to pass a revenue and spending plan for the county for the fiscal year that will begin July 1.