Input sought on possible bus-fare hike

Bus driver John Herbst, with Grand Valley Transit, mans the wheel as a rider deposits her fare, before heading to Fruitvale from a transfer station on South Avenue in Grand Junction.

Grand Valley Transit operators are seeking the public’s input on a proposed fare hike that would boost the cost to ride the bus by 50 percent or more.

The Grand Valley Regional Transportation Committee, the bus service’s governing board, recommended increasing the price of a single bus ride from $1 to $1.50. Most other cash fares and discount passes would rise by a similar percentage.

The price hike would be the first for Grand Valley Transit since 2004, when the cost for a single ride doubled from 50 cents to $1. Grand Valley Transit began service in 2000 with the 50-cent fare.

Todd Hollenbeck, manager of the Mesa County Regional Transportation Planning Office, which oversees Grand Valley Transit’s operation, said increased operational costs and funding from local governments that has remained flat the last couple of years are driving the proposed fare hike.

“Now we’re in a position where we don’t have as much flexibility to adjust to these types of impacts,” Hollenbeck said, noting fuel costs are eating into Grand Valley Transit’s budget.

About 12 percent — $300,000 — of Grand Valley Transit’s operational fund comes from bus fares. The balance of the budget is evenly split between funding from local governments and the federal government.

Hollenbeck said a study of similarly sized transit systems found most derive about 15 percent of their revenue from ridership.

Grand Valley Transit carried more than 983,000 riders around the Grand Valley last year, a 12 percent bump over 2009. Ridership is expected to exceed 1 million this year.

The county is accepting comments from the public until June 24. The committee is expected to vote on the fare increase June 27.


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