BALTIMORE – As March 11 scheduled fare increases draw closer, bus riders here aren’t pleased with the Mass Transmit Administration’s new fare restructuring system — never mind a new, all-day pass for $3.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Hattie Brown, who rides every day to get to work. “You’ve got to pay more to get less.”
The restructuring has generated much controversy around Baltimore, with some residents complaining that the increased fares and reduction of services discriminates against the poorer, predominantly black residents of the city.
Bus riders will soon pay $1.35 per ride, rather than $1.25 plus the 10 cents extra for a transfer ticket. The new fare applies whether they transfer or not.
As part of the MTA’s effort to simplify the system, the “zone” system, in which commuters pay an extra 10 cents for each of five zone en route to their destinations, will be eliminated.
Instead, travellers who transfer buses will be allowed to buy a $3, all-day pass allowing unlimited bus, metro, and light rail travel for one day.
For travellers wishing to change lines, the only other option is to buy a single pass each time for $1.35.
The new day passes will be purchased from a ticket- dispensing machine aboard the bus rather than from the driver.
Selling the passes by machine is one way to protect drivers and travellers, said Anthony Brown, an MTA spokesman.
Brown explained: “Holding a day pass is like holding cash. We didn’t want the operators holding them.”
The Board of Public Works Wednesday gave the MTA retroactive approval to buy ticket dispensing machines that were installed in February aboard city buses.
The MTA estimates that its revenues will increase by over $10,000 per day under the new fare system.
Cassandra Wood, who also uses the bus to get to work, seemed resigned to the increases.
“They’re taking money out of my pocket,” she said, “but I guess they’ve got to do it for economy purposes.”
In addition to the changes in in fare are changes in service. In a statement issued in January, the MTA said some lines are being eliminated or consolidated because they are “not supported by adequate ridership.”
Venus Williams, who uses the downtown No. 28 every day, said MTA’s plan to change that line will hurt people who depend on its proximity to their homes.
“You’ve got elderly people up on Eutaw [Place] who catch the 28,” Williams said. “I don’t know what they’re going to do.” Brown said No. 28 was being consolidated into line No. 27. The only impact on service will be a longer wait between buses, he said. -30-