COMMUNITY ACTION Transit raises rates, reduces services

The fare increase is the first by the agency in years.
LISBON -- A nonprofit rural transit system is increasing rates and reducing services to help it cope with an anticipated 2002 funding shortfall.
The higher rates and cost-saving steps took effect at the beginning of the year, Carol Bretz, director of the Community Action Agency of Columbiana County Inc., said recently.
Transit system patrons now pay $2 for rides between Columbiana County communities.
Before the rate increase, they paid $1.50.
Elderly and disabled riders now pay $1 for a ride that previously cost 75 cents.
Bretz said the fare increase is modest and marks the first time since 1994 that the price of the agency's rides has gone up.
The new fare structure is expected to bring in about $2,000 more annually, raising the agency's annual fare revenue to about $23,000.
Service: To save money, Community Action has stopped offering rides on weekends.
Other cost-saving measures have included reducing hours worked by dispatchers and by the agency's 21 full-time and four part-time drivers.
The rural transit system serves about 5,000 people annually, many of whom are elderly or disabled.
The fare increase and budget-cutting moves are necessary because the agency fears it may be short $75,000 to $100,000 in funding this year.
The shortfall is being produced partly by a nearly $23,000 state funding cut and anticipated increases in insurance costs.
The agency, which has an annual budget of more than $500,000, relies heavily on state and federal grants.

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