CAT Fare Hike Proposed

Public transportation fares might be increasing soon, and for most people, the change will be hard to bear. Even though the increase is expected to be only 25 cents, bus riders point out that the extra fee takes quite a toll. Chatham County bus rider Kamaria Muntu said, "If you add it every day, especially for people with children, it adds up in the long run."

Scott Lansing, a spokesman for Chatham Area Transit said that the increased fare "will help make up a spending shortfall. We've taken cuts in federal funding, about $400,000." And with Chatham Area Transit thinking about raising its rates as early as this September, many people are beginning to worry now.

After all, many of the Chatham County bus riders agree on the quality of the transportation. "It is excellent transportation and the drivers are very friendly," said Muntu. Larry Williams, another frequent bus rider, added, "It's worth it. It gets you all over town."

Many bus riders, in fact, are not opposed to the increase. They say, however, that if officials are going to raise the fares, they should offer transfer slips to ride from one bus to another. As rider Muntu pointed out, "A lot of times you want to get on another bus. You have to pay another dollar. They should help us with the transfer."

But CAT's Lansing said transfers were done away with years ago because it was just too much trouble. "We had problems tracking them. People abused the slips. Some would get more rides than the others."

Since it is not offering transfer slips, CAT is going to offer a new monthly card that includes unlimited rides for that month. It will cost $48. As far as increases on fares, a one-way trip would go up from 75 cents to $1; $1.20 to $1.50 on the Teleride; and the downtown CAT shuttle, currently free, would cost 25 cents.

A public hearing is scheduled for the morning of July 24 at the courthouse. Chatham Area Transit officials say they'll have a decision by September.

Reported by: Hena Daniels,