MADISON (WKOW) -- Tuesday night, Transit Commission members debated for three hours -- and in the end, they decided this is not the time to raise rates -- and voted 5 to 2 to keep bus rates unchanged.
Madison's mayor proposed raising rates from $1.50 to $2 dollars a ride -- another option -- raising rates to $1.75.
Commission members voiced concerns over increasing fares in a recession. Some argued it would be a hardship on those who could least afford it.
"I really think it would have been a big mistake to raise fares," said 10th District Alderman Brian Solomon. "Just too many questions and too many concerns about the impact it would have on ridership, on the economy, and especially on low income riders."
"When bus fares go up, many times we lose riders, and we won't necessarily gain the money that we were hoping," said 5th District Alderwoman Robbie Webber. "Then, we just end up with fewer rides, less money, and the worst possible scenario would be if we had to cut service after we already raised fares."
Commission members also expressed concern over the environment and gas prices. They say lower gas prices will encourage more people to drive their cars, rather than rely on transit.
This vote will complicate things for the city of Madison and the budget process.
The mayor's budget proposal includes an extra $1 million the he expected would come from increasing bus fares.
The commission talked about options to avoid cutting Metro services. Some options are eliminate a marketing position, and reduce service on 7 major holidays and on Sundays.