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North County Bus Fare Rise to Offset U.S. Cut

Times Staff Writer

North County bus riders will pay an extra dime a ride starting July 1 to offset an expected slash in federal subsidies.

North County Transit District directors approved the increase, to 60 cents, on Thursday after a hearing at which no protest was raised.

Federal fund cuts, which could be as much as $1 million for the transit district, would be offset by an $800,000 gain from the fare increase and an increase in the district’s share of state sales taxes.

A $20.2-million budget also was adopted Thursday without public comment. It proposes the same level of bus service and no increase in district salaries. But if the federal cuts are less than expected, the funds will be used for increases in salaries and service.

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Board members earlier rejected a budget that included modest increases in bus service and other new expenditures, because of the pending cut in federal subsidies. North County Transit District General Manager Richard Fifer said the proposed 25% cut in federal subsidies now being considered in Congress is expected to be trimmed to 10% to 15% before the federal budget is passed in October.

The last fare increase in 1981 raised the rate to 65 cents. Two years later, the fare was dropped to 50 cents in an attempt to increase ridership. The rate is 30 cents below San Diego Transit’s 80-cent fare, but North County bus riders must pay 25 cents for transfers while San Diego riders may obtain free transfers.

Mike Gillespie, spokesman for the North County district, said the lack of opposition to the fare increase was expected. A survey of bus drivers showed that most riders were “resigned to the increase. They didn’t like it, of course, but they knew it was needed.”

Monthly passes rose in price from $22 to $26, and monthly passes for the elderly and handicapped went from $11 to $13. But premium passes, used by express bus commuters, remained at $40.

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Gillespie said the fare increases were expected to slow the rate of yearly ridership increase from 7.2% to 8% a year to a modest 2%. More than 8 million riders are expected to have used the North County bus system during the 1984-85 fiscal year ending June 30.

The $20-million budget for the year beginning July 1 contains no frills. The largest increase is $200,000 in maintenance costs to service the fleet of Flxible buses bought in 1981 and 1982. The biggest budget cut fell on the marketing department, where $130,000 was cut from advertising and promotions.


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