Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The proposed Paratransit Fare increases

For those in the Salt Lake area, you are now well aware that UTA is proposing to raise Paratransit fares to $4.00 per person or double of regular fare. Once again the a small and vocal group will be attacking UTA for this proposal and probably bring out their dog and pony show.

However, it is important to take a closer look at the Paratransit service is, how it came to be and how much it actually cost.

Paratransit service was created out of the ADA law back in the early 90’s. While the Federal Government forced transit systems to provide the service, there provide no operating funds to make the service happen. Overnight anywhere from 25 to 50% of a transit agencies funding was diverted to create ADA approved Paratransit services.

The problem with Paratransit service is that it is more of a taxi service than a transit oriented service. People who are not capable of taking regular bus service are picked up at their homes and taken to work, appointments or shopping. While this service caters to a very small group of people, the cost to provide the service is substantial.

As I have noted before, it cost about $1.75 per passenger on TRAX, $3.75 on the bus and about $35.00 on Paratransit. The cost of providing transit services is not just a problem for UTA but for transit systems across the nation.

Transit systems are caught in the middle between a group of people who think that everyone should have a bus on their front door step and the politicians who have starved transit to death and put unrealistic requirements on how well they perform.

We must face the facts that we are paying the price for 70+ years of auto centric development that makes transit more expensive that it would be otherwise. As more baby boomers get up there in age, this will have an even more dramatic effect on mobility of our society.

Finally, it has to be pointed out once again that most transit funding comes from one of the most volatile forms of taxing, the sales tax. When the funding is need the most during hard economic times, it is going down. Until a stable source of funding can be found and a sure fire system to keep politicians from steeling it away from where the voters approved it to go like in California, transit systems will continue to suffer when a sales tax dollars go down during recessions.

While it is easy to go and blame the UTA, there are many more problems that are too hard for many to comprehend. Instead they will go out and complain about the big evil UTA, call for John Inglish’s head, because it is the easy thing to do while looking for the root causes would take time and effort.


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Anonymous said...

I work for a facility for people with mental disabilities, the people who reside here range in age from 18 years to 75 years old. We depend on this service to help provide transportation to and from our resident's place of employment. We have 6 residents a day, both in the morning and afternoon using Flextrans services. Each resident does pay out of pocket for monthly passes. If fares are increased or routes are cut, then we take a substantial loss in our own funding to help provide services for our residents. Unfortuanately, our residents do have to pay out of pocket for paratransit services. And, like most people who live on social security, this is an extremly limited income. To increase fares could be detrimental to our resident's income, which then will cut into services that are imperative for daily living. Please keep in mind the hundreds of people who depend on this service because they have absoultly no other source of trasportation, as well as a very limited source of income.

Thank you,
Faculity and Staff of West Jordan Care Center.