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Posted: Thursday, August 29th 2013 at 4:01pm

Red Rabbit fare rollback on the agenda

By Marc Eggers Staff
EMAIL STORY CONTACT EDITOR PRINT
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Phillippa Lewis Moss
GAINESVILLE – Community Service Director Phillippa Lewis Moss told the Gainesville City Council Thursday morning that fares on the Red Rabbit needed to be rolled back.

Moss briefed the Council at their work session on the status of the transportation system they took control of from Hall County on July1st.

And she was to the point in her analysis about what needed to be done.

After several years of sustained growth in revenues and ridership, Moss pointed out, a sudden decline took place. "Look what happened…when we increased fares," Moss said pointing at an overhead power point graph.

"Ridership dropped off…a 45% decline. So all of the work that we had done, literally for the last seven years, turned around in twelve months because of one decision," Moss said.

Councilwoman Ruth Bruner asked Moss, "This was the decision by the Hall County Commission?"

"This was a recommendation made by the Commission," Moss answered.

"Getting additional fares is good," Moss explained, "…but this was a good idea at the wrong time."

"We could talk about this all day long, but what is done is done, and now we need to figure out how do we turn this ship around," Moss continued.

"We need to make some changes and we need to make them very quickly. Most of these would occur October 1st if Council agrees."

Moss then began to list her recommendations.

"We would like to simplify the fare process and have what we call 'Buck Fares', one dollar; (and) the service would be free to seniors over the age of sixty; (free) to children under the age of seven and to persons with disabilities."

"But it’s not on the honor system. People would have to come to our office, show proof; we take a photo and put it on a card."

"We need to do something to encourage people once again to ride this bus service."

And the one dollar fee, Moss added, would greatly reduce the problem with having the correct change required by the current $1.25 fare.

Council members began to slowly warm to the idea of rolling back fares.

George Wangemann said, "This is an area where we will have to continue to put our trust in the staff, and I think the staff has done a good job thus far and I see no reason not to continue to have trust."

The rest of the Council agreed and the measure was put on the agenda for a final vote next Tuesday.
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