The city is looking at increasing prices for subsidized Amtrak train tickets between Corcoran and Hanford, and may—or may not—increase the price of riding on Corcoran Area Transit (CAT) buses. Any changes will take place after the beginning of the new fiscal year in July.
Community Development Director Kevin Tromborg presented the initiative proposal to the city council last week. The council, in turn, requested additional community outreach before making any final decisions.
Tromborg, who took the reins of the city’s transit department last year, noted the city currently requires residents to pay $3.25 for an Amtrak ticket between Corcoran and Hanford; tickets can also be purchased for round trips and packages of tickets can be bought. That is a 50 percent reduction in the cost of such tickets, normally sold for $6.50. Tromborg suggested the price be raised to $4.50.
He told the council CAT receives Local Transportation Funds (LTF) money to pay for a large portion of its transit operations. Those grants require a minimum 10 percent farebox in revenues to continue receiving future funding. The 10 percent is measured against the transit department’s costs.
“As overhead costs increase, it requires more revenue to meet the 10 percent,” he said in his report to council.
To ensure the city meets its minimum, Tromborg said the department needs to increase revenues. This can be accomplished by:
–Raising CAT bus ticket prices, currently set at $1 for the general public and $.25 for senior citizens and the disabled, through the Dial-a-Ride program. The Transit Development Plan of Kings County recommends a minimum of $1.50 for the general public and $.50 for seniors, said Tromborg.
However, raising CAT prices must be done through a public hearing process and resolution, which will take time, should the council approve such a move.
–Increasing ridership can also have an impact. The city is currently working with The Kings County Association of Governments (KCAG) to secure funding for a survey to determine the feasibility of going to a fixed route system. Under such a system, there would be no need for sporadic pick-ups, since the buses would run on a fixed route during their normal schedules.
Staff is also working on a more efficient public outreach program that Tromborg hopes will increase ridership. Those plans by themselves, however, may not be enough to meet the farebox ratio.
There have been no increases in the charges for bus rides in at least 10 years. Amtrak ticket prices have only been adjusted when Amtrak has increased the ticket cost.