Saturday, December 22, 2007

All I want for Christmas is a new transit pass

I would not want to be a bus driver in San Diego after Jan 1.

Actually, I wouldn't want to be a bus driver anywhere at anytime, but especially in San Diego after Jan 1.

That's when the transit fare structure changes, and not for the better, and I'll betcha there will be a whole lot of unhappy riders starting Jan 2. I buy a pass every month because I ride so frequently, and that price is going up too, but not significantly. It's going from $60 per month to $64. If you're a daily or frequent rider, and you buy a pass, that four dollars isn't a huge deal. It's something, but not huge.

The daily rider...there's another story, and that is where I feel sorry for passengers and the soon to be berated bus drivers. A bus ride is increasing from $1.75 to $2.00 on local routes. Again, not horrible. But here is the horribleness: they're doing away with transfers, and encouraging people to buy $5 daily passes. That means you can pay the full fare for every leg of a trip or you can pay $5 for unlimited rides. No more paying a fare, getting a transfer and continuing to your destination.

SO, for example, right now if I want to take a quick trip to the next city and pick up some veggies at the Farmers Market, I can pay $1.75 jump on a bus that takes me to the trolley, ride to the market, grab my goodies, jump back on the trolley, transfer to the bus, and be home again within about an hour or 90 minutes. It's four very short rides to get me there and back.

After the fare change that same $1.75 trip will cost a minimum of $5, and all incentive to leave the car at home is gone. After Jan 1 it will be $2 for the first bus, another $2 for the trolley, another $2 for the trolley home, and yet another $2 for that five minute bus ride back to the house. You get the choice of paying $8.00....or buying a $5 unlimited day pass. Either way, that's a big jump from $1.75.

This will probably not be a problem at all for all the fabulously wealthy, beautiful people that take public transit, but for everyone else, that is a significant increase. Especially for those who have no other transportation options.

I could almost always scrounge $1.75 out of the sofa cushions to pay for an emergency trip, but $5 is another story.

This is just one more reason it's getting harder and harder to afford to live in San Diego. It's already out of reach for me, but between family and my job, I'm not going anywhere soon.

It's depressing.

And it makes my wallet ache.

And it makes me wonder who the heck they think rides the bus.

And it makes me want to buy earplugs for the nice guy that drives my bus. It's not his fault, but boy oh boy, is he gonna get an earful.


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