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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Metro fares could see major bump

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Madison Metro bus riders may see an increase in fares next year if Metro’s proposed budget request passes.

There are two proposals on the table, one with a 25-cent increase in fares and another with a 50 cent increase. The current fare is $1.50.


University of Wisconsin students receive an unlimited ride Metro bus pass each semester, which they pay for as part of a $53 per semester, per student portion of segregated fees.

Margaret Bergamini, Associated Students of Madison bus pass coordinator, said students would not see an immediate increase in segregated fees as a result of higher Metro fares.

“According to our contract, our prices are set through August 2012,” Bergamini said. “In the long run, [fees] might and probably will increase.”

Mick Rusch, spokesperson for Madison Metro, said they included the 25-cent increase in their 2009 budget proposal, and the 50-cent increase came from Mayor Dave Cieslewicz.

Rachel Strauch-Nelson, spokesperson for the mayor, said the 25-cent increase is part of Metro’s base budget, what they need “just to stay in place.”

The Metro has not raised cash fares since 2000, Strauch-Nelson said, when fuel costs averaged $1.47 per gallon. In 2008, Metro has averaged nearly three times that amount at $4.06 per gallon.

Rusch said increasing fares is a long process that includes public hearings for people to voice their opinions. He said he doesn’t expect a loss in riders if the increase is implemented because of the cost of fuel.

“With gas prices so high … we’re not expecting any ridership decrease,” Rusch said, adding it is still cheaper to ride the bus than continue to fill up one’s gas tank.

Strauch-Nelson said the mayor proposed a 50-cent increase in order to expand route services and possibly put some away in metro reserves in case gas prices continue to grow.

In the last year, Metro added a number of hybrid buses to their fleet. These buses cost $180,000 more than regular diesel buses Rusch said, but he figures they save about 30 percent in fuel.

“We’re trying to decide if it’s worth the extra money,” Rusch said of hybrid buses, adding they are collecting data and it is difficult to tell in one year, especially because hybrid engines become more efficient once they are broken in.

Strauch-Nelson said adding more hybrid buses is definitely something for the long run, but with the tight budget, now is probably not the time to purchase them.

The increase in fares would help pay for high fuel prices and an increase in security, specifically at the south transfer point, Rusch said.

Rusch said Metro had an incident with a driver at the south transfer point this summer, and just last week a man was arrested for public urination at the transfer stop.

Metro has added camera surveillance at all the transfer points, Rusch said, adding they hope to have cameras in at least half the buses.

Madison Police currently patrol the transfer point areas, but Rusch said Metro would like to hire uniformed security.

“[The transfer point] is safe but not just quite safe enough,” Rusch said.

Bergamini said she thinks the increase will fuel a debate among city officials, Madison Metro and Madison residents.

The Transportation and Parking Commission will meet Thursday to discuss the two proposals.

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