Sacramento Regional Transit District to Consider Fare Hike

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SACRAMENTO --

Sacramentans who take the bus or light rail could soon be paying more.

Sacramento Regional Transit could be raising its rates as much as 20 percent by this summer. On Monday night, RT's board members will be holding a meeting to discuss the hike in fares.

Many riders told FOX40 Sunday the light rail trains need to be cleaned more.

"If they're raising fares, they should spend some of that money to clean the original cars they bought in the '80s. The floors are really dirty," said Dennis Bylo, a midtown Sacramento resident who said he has been riding light rail since 1987.

"Some of these trains are sick. I mean they need to be cleaned, disinfected," said Bambie Thompson, who rides RT almost daily.

In order to make those improvements, the agency has said it will need to raise fares, something it hasn't done since 2009.

"Our costs have gone up probably about 20 percent over that period of time, so where we are right now is running a deficit," said Sacramento City Council Member Jay Schenirer, who also acts as RT's chairman.

He said the system has been hurting financially for the past two years.

And as well as a fare hike, more will be done to make sure every rider is paying.

"More fare checkers, you shouldn't be riding the train every day and never have anyone ask to look at your ticket. We need to do that, make sure that people on the trains have paid for it," Schenirer told FOX40.

If voted and approved by a board vote in March, the current proposal would make the average single ride fare go up from $2.50 to $3 starting in July.

All other fares, including senior, student and disabled would also increase about 20 percent. Some riders told FOX40 they feel a rate hike in July is too soon.

"I think the price is going to be very hard for people on a budget, so I think they should just leave it like that maybe for one more year would be considerate," said Stephan Spade, who rides the light rail almost daily.

But others don't mind paying more as long as things improve.

"It's a wonderful system, and I want to see it expanded," Bylo said.

Riders also said they want to see more police on the trains. Thompson claims six months back she was jumped and robbed by two men while riding light rail.

"I was trying to get off the train, and I had two guys come towards me, and I thought, 'Oh God, here we go.' Next thing I know, I woke up on the sidewalk with my backpack gone, and there was no security around, there was nothing seen on the cameras," Thompson said.

Schenirer said improvements to security, train cleanliness and even rail expansion will come once the money starts flowing in.

"Nothing comes for free unfortunately," Schenirer said.

The RT board will discuss the fare hike during a meeting Monday at 6 p.m. at their headquarters near 29th and N streets in midtown Sacramento.

Schenirer said the public is welcome to come and give their opinion.

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