Will Higher Bus Fares Push Riders to the Roads?

While some are taking advantage of free metro rides for ozone action day, the city council is voting on a resolution to raise bus fares.

"By people choosing to ride the bus you won't have as much of the toxins going into the air," says Madison Metro Spokesperson Julie Maryott-Walsh.

That's helpful, especially on an ozone action day.

But some claim Tuesday's hazy, grey skies will just get worse if the Madison City Council approves a metro fare hike.

"A lot of those people are going to go out and buy a jalopy," says Michael Barrett, a volunteer for Madison Area Bus Advocacy Alliance (MABAA), "And it's going to be more dirty air days, more people driving, more pollution."

Barrett says Metro figures show bus ridership will drop by more than 100,000.

But many bus riders say while they don't want to pay more, they don't have a choice.

"I think if they raise the fare there will be the same or less people," says rider Tineshia Campbell, "But a lot of people don't have options, it's either the bus or walk."

Rider Joel Stankiewicz adds, "I think it's kind of stupid cause it's 39 [dollars] now and it's going to be 47 and I ride the bus back and forth to work. I can't really afford it."

Metro officials say they anticipate a decrease in numbers.

"Generally even though you lose some riders there are enough people to stay with the system that you'll end up earning more in revenue than you'll lose from people who drop out," says Maryott-Walsh.

"We think they're being very penny wise and pound foolish about this," says Barrett.

But Maryott-Walsh says there's no other solution.

"We have to tell those people that we have to face reality, and we have to meet our budget."

If passed, the increases would take effect on or after August 7.

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