Thursday, June 23, 2011
A majority of speakers made emotional testimonies against eliminating Saturday bus services at the Wichita Transit public hearing.
"It would be detrimental to me 'cause that's my only way of getting around," said Wilma Hawkins, who relies on paratransit vans.
Eliminating Saturday bus services and increasing fares would leave people with special needs like Hawkins with no other option.
"I would be stuck at home a lot of days, which I need to get out to exercise. I won't be able to do that if the prices go up," said Hawkins.
Wichita Transit officials say increase in fuel prices have contributed to the million dollar budget deficit. This is leaving them with a tough decision: to cut services or increase bus fares.
"It's not a good situation for transit anytime you have to have service reductions or fare increases. Usually you lose a certain percent of ridership when that happens," said Michael Vinson, director of the Wichita Transit.
Officials initially gave one option to raise fares by 50 cents and eliminate Saturday services. But after two weeks of rider feedback, officials added three more options that would keep Saturday services but increase base fares even more.
"I'm fortunate enough to have a job, but a lot of people in my situation don't and are living on a fixed income. When they raise prices like this, it affects people tremendously," said Cameron Lindow, a paratransit rider.
Paratransit vans, which carry disabled passengers, would be twice as much as the base fare. These vans are for those unable to use fixed route buses and offer curb-to-curb, shared ride, vans. This is something that Hawkins wants council members to consider.
"They need to consider the people that are disabled now, 'cause one day, they could be in the same spot that we're in," said Hawkins.
It will be up to the Wichita City Council to approve the measures to move forward at a meeting in July.
The service changes would take effect by the first week in September.