Negative reaction to recently approved hikes for Beeline bus fares is understandable. In a down economy, it seems like a vicious cycle of punishing the very people who depend on cheap public transit now more than ever.
But this was a decision that has been put off for much too long.
The artificially low fares haven’t been raised since 1995, despite climbing operating expenses. Past City Councils apparently found the decision to reconcile the two issues politically untenable. And if the blowback from riders this past week was any indication, we can see why.
But at a time when this City Council has been forced to make heavy cuts to public services in an effort to bridge multi-million-dollar budget deficits at City Hall, perhaps it was the working-hand calluses that finally got the fare hikes through.
Either way, they were badly needed. A relatively moderate fare increase should be taken with a certain measure of salt if it means the difference between keeping the Beeline — which serves more than 1 million riders a year — running, and axing the service altogether.