Bus fares likely to increase
At yesterday’s Transit Commission meeting, Ron Iwen, transit director, asked the commission for their approval to go ahead and study the possibility of raising the bus fares in order to close the gap in the budget and to maintain current service. Thirty days is required for public comment and discussion. “If the fare increase gets approved, there will be no service cuts. If not, there will more than likely be service cuts,” said Iwen.
Iwen stated that, when the Saturday service cuts were being discussed, the public asked for fare increases so that cuts would not be needed. “We are the lowest out there. Madison, Cheboygan, Waukesha, Racine, and Milwaukee. We are not asking for a lot,” he said.
One of the commissioners asked why the students’ increase was a higher percentage than the others. Iwen explained that it was because they are their biggest use of management. With the number of police interventions, disciplinary issues, incident reports, etc., having to do with the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) students, they have had to add a school liaison officer. This person meets with the dean of students and straightens out problems.
Don Ishmael, a transit supervisor, also stated that students are the main reason that adults refrain from using the buses. “Students make up 80 to 9o% of our complaints,” he said. City buses are the main transportation for students. Shanon Molina suggested more school buses. Ishmael said that a big portion of the students are not affected because they use KUSD bus passes. “They have no concept of money. They’ll put in a $1 bill or a $5 bill knowing that they get no change, and they think nothing of it.”
Commissioner Steven Herr said that he was sympathetic to the management issue, and he suggested just jumping it to an even dollar. The current student fare is 75 cents. “Then, we don’t have to be fiddling with quarters,” he said. Iwen said that last year, Racine toiled with $1.75 or $2, and they ended up jumping their fare to $2. Ishmael said that he didn’t mind taking quarters to the bank twice a week. “I’d rather do that than lose riders,” he said.
All commissioners were in favor of forging ahead and reviewing a fare increase vs. service cuts. They gave Iwen the go-ahead to start scheduling public hearings.