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Countywide : Bus Fares Up Nickel; Blind to Ride Free

Al Herskovitz, a 58-year-old former Santa Ana insurance agent, called his county supervisor three months ago with a complaint. Why, he wanted to know, could he ride the bus free in Los Angeles but not in Orange County?

A three-month telephone campaign by Herskovitz, who is legally blind, paid off on Monday when Orange County Transit District directors voted unanimously to allow legally blind passengers to ride at no charge.

Beginning July 1, however, regular bus patrons will pay 90 cents one way, up a nickel from the current 85-cent fare. The fare increase was approved unanimously as part of the same package that included the impromptu amendment to let the blind ride free.

The Los Angeles-based Southern California Rapid Transit District has charged $1.10 since June, 1988, and has no increase planned soon, RTD officials said. They added that RTD has not charged legally blind patrons since 1965. Long Beach Municipal Transit currently charges 60 cents with no increase planned.

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The last OCTD fare increase went into effect on July 1, 1989, and was also a nickel. Officials said the latest round of price hikes is due to inflation and a desire to maintain the level of costs covered by fare-box revenues. The district is heavily subsidized by state and federal grants.

As part of the fee increases approved Monday, the OCTD board agreed to study the possible elimination of fares for all handicapped patrons, who currently pay a 40-cent discount fare during off-peak hours. Also to be reviewed is a policy that allows children under 6 to ride free.

A citizens’ advisory committee spokesman urged the OCTD board to consider increasing the basic bus fare to an even $1 to raise $4 million in additional revenue, citing the county’s general affluence and the convenience of paying with a dollar bill. But OCTD officials said they want to wait until the district can acquire fare-box equipment that can accept paper money--probably in a year or two.


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