A new fare structure is one recommendation of Red Rose Transit Authority's new Transit Development Plan, which will be presented to the RRTA Board for acceptance next month.
"RRTA currently utilizes five different fare zones for the system, which is difficult for both the public and operators to understand and administer," the report says. "RRTA recognizes issues with the existing fare structure and has considered a different, simpler fare structure that does not decrease revenue and potentially increases ridership."
The new fare structure the report recommends would replace the current zone system with two base fares, city and county. Gradual implementation is recommended, to enable riders to adjust to gradual price increases to an eventual city base fare of $1.75 and county base fare of $2.75.
Currently, RRTA's base fare is $1.70; that is matched by the Berks Area Regional Transportation Authority and exceeded only by Capital Area Transit's $1.75, the report says.
The report says RRTA’s operating costs increased an average of 4.7 percent per year from 2008 to 2013, while its total revenues over that time increased an average of 4.6 percent.
"RRTA cannot maintain current service levels without a sustained balanced budget," the report says, recommending actions including the new fare structure. "Unless both operating costs and revenues increase by 3 percent per year, operating costs will increase faster than revenues. In order to maintain a balanced budget, RRTA will have to identify new revenue sources or decrease current service levels."
One need identified is for more local funding. Currently, the report says, Lancaster County provides approximately $257,000 annually — "the lowest local contribution among the peer counties," which average $517,181.
The report also says RRTA will eventually need to expand its bus storage and maintenance facilities.
"The maximum capacity of the existing facility is 48 vehicles. There is some room for expansion at the existing site for an additional eight or nine bus storage bays," it says. When further expansion is needed, it will cost an estimated $10 million to $15 million, "depending upon the size and location of the building."