How Do Sacramento RT Fares Compare to Other Transit Systems?

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Sacramento Regional Transit's exploration of a 20 percent fare increase has passengers up in arms.

RT is seeking to stop the flow of red ink in its operating budget by proposing its first fare increase since 2009. But low-income riders say they are already too high.

"I had to go into my piggy bank and get all nickles and dimes to get bus fare this morning," said Valerie Mitchell, who is on a fixed income.

But just how do RT fares compare to fares of other transit systems that have bus and light rail systems?

RT's adult fare of $2.50 is the same as Portland's Tri Met and San Diego's trolley system that RT's light rail is patterned after. Houston's Metro, which has the same ridership as Sacramento's Regional System, has a fare that varies from $1.25 to $2.25, depending on the destination. You can argue that labor and operating costs are lower in Texas than they are in California.

The one-day pass for RT is $6 and could go up to $7.50 for unlimited rides. It is $5 in Portland and San Diego. San Diego does charge $12 for its more distant zone. Houston's is a mere $3.

Sacramento transit passengers may see an increase in their monthly pass from $100 to $125. It's $100 in Portland and varies from $72 to $100 in San Diego, again depending on the destination.

Houston doesn't have a monthly pass, but the maximum daily pass tops out at around $68 for 30 days.

Some passengers say they will be forced to curtail the number of trips they take if fares go up. That could defeat the purpose of raising more money for RT.

"It doesn't make sense to me," said Mitchell.

But passenger Francisco Ruelas said people like him who don't have a car will be forced to pay the higher fares and do without other necessities.

"We've go to still pay for it if we want to get to our destination, but if I could vote on it, I'd say 'no,'" Ruelas said.

The problem is that passengers won't get a vote. It will be up to the RT Board to consider a staff recommendation, tweak it, and vote on the proposal March 14.


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