It has been a busy year for Community Transit of United Community Action Partnership (UCAP). After five years of expanding services, Community Transit became an eight-county public transit system at the start of 2018. Now, the work to create more seamless travel for residents has begun. The first part of that effort will be in effect soon. New fare rates begin on January 1, 2019.
“We are very excited to be bringing all eight counties under one fare rate,” said UCAP Transportation Director Cathleen Amick.
Community Transit serves Cottonwood Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Pipestone, Redwood and Rock counties. Currently, there are three different fare structures within that service area. Creating a unified fare structure was a priority because it is key to creating a simpler system for riders.
“With a single fare structure, someone can board a bus anywhere in our service area, use the same ride passes, and understand the rates,” Amick said.
Changing the fares was a big decision, and it was not taken lightly. Early this year, Amick and other Community Transit staff pulled together a fare collection committee. The committee is comprised of a representative from every county in the service area.
“The fare collection committee was key to every step we took,” said Community Transit Operations Administrator Nick Leske.
They began by comparing the existing fare structures and discussing where change would be beneficial. They quickly decided that it was best to move to a single fare, and that they would go with a mileage-based fare instead of zone-based.
Mileage-based fares are calculated by how many miles a person travels, no matter where they are picked up. Zoned-based faring starts at a fixed point, and charges a higher rate to people who are further away.
“Our fare committee really felt that mileage-based fares were the best option for riders,” Amick said.
Then came the work of deciding what changes were needed.
“It was difficult because there were so many differences in the fares, and we wanted the changes to be as minimal as possible,” Leske said.
The fares that will begin on January 1 include a $2 base fare for rides that are scheduled at least 24 hours ahead. Fare rises in $1 increments based on trip mileage. The base rate for scheduling a ride on the day of travel is $2.50. The complete fare structure can be found at www.communitytransitswmn.org. Paper copies can also be picked up at any UCAP office.
The new fare structure is the first step in a larger project that will eventually include automated fare collection, said Leske.
“We want to be in a place where, not only are our fares affordable, but there is ease and flexibility in ride payment, both for our riders and families.”