Increase in rates proposed for MATS

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Problems continue with the Montgomery Area Transit System struggling to get out of a huge deficit. The system was faced with the same situation last year.

Transit officials held a public hearing Wednesday outlining several proposals and they were met with some opposition and frustration.

"Do you want them to decrease the route or increase the fair?" a Montgomery resident questioned.

That's the controversial question that has these Montgomery transit riders fired up.

"Let them stay just like they is. I don't care about you raising the fare," Montgomery resident William Fuller said.

But these riders are overwhelming in favor of not cutting services, but instead raising the fare.

Transit officials say several changes may have to happen in order for the system to get out of a $500,000 deficit.

"It's going to take more than the people in this room to generate the amount of money that's needed to actually fill that hole," Montgomery City Planner Robert Smith said.

The first proposal is to raise the fare from one dollar to $1.25 "we have not said anything more than $1.25, the $2 figure came from the public," MATS General Manager Kelvin Miller said.

The next option is to shift weekday night services for 13 routes from 9:30 to 7:30 and on Saturdays from 7:30 to 5:30.

"Students like me, I get out of class at 8:55p.m. And I either have to pay someone for a ride or be stranded," Montgomery resident Christine Gray said.

"If we increase the fares to a certain amount as you heard from the folks here today we would not have to cut that service," Miller said.

Transit officials say when you raise fares, you lose ridership. And if you lose ridership, you lose revenue. But these resident say they will dish out more cash to keep riding and to keep the routes like they are.

"I just feel like they need to leave the services alone and do an increase in the fare," Montgomery resident Kevin Laudate said.

Transit officials say they will listen to the riders and take all feedback into consideration before making a final decision.

A lot of people in attendance said they would be at the next city council meeting to express their concerns and support of a rate increase.

If you missed the hearing, comment forms are available on the transit system's website. All comments need to be received by 5p.m. on November 23rd.

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