Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) has completed their Fare Study and scheduled a Public Hearing on the proposed changes for the March TDCHR (i.e. HRT's Board) meeting. The notice and changes http://www.gohrt.com/PDF/HRTPublicHearing_ProposedFareChanges.pdf
First, I was expecting more. Given the time and talk surrounding the Study, I assumed we would see something much more ambitious.
Second, the proposed changes don't address the connectivity question. Under HRT's fare structure, there are five independent parts that farecards and transfers won't crossover for: mainline buses, paddlewheel ferry, VBWave trolleys, and now the Portsmouth Loop and MAX bus services. A farecard or transfer from one won't work on the other four. HRT Staff told the RAC TPPC that that question would be tackled in the Study. It wasn't.
As for the proposed changes:
1. Institute a Day Pass (at $3.50)
A no-brainer that I've pushed in a few meetings over the last several months. When Ocean City, MD went to a Day Pass, bus ridership shot up over 40%. A Day Pass makes the bus so easy to use.
2. Eliminate the 10 Ride Farecard
WTF?!? The 10 Ride is the bread-and-butter for the person who rides weekly but not daily. Only an idiot would alienate such a large segment of the market.
3. End Free Transfers
I would never have suggested it, but I can live with it if the Day Pass comes online. A round-trip paying farebox fare is now $3; with the transfers gone but having a Day Pass, you could do it - and then some - for $3.50.
That brings me to the final matter: the $1.50 farebox fare. HRT Staff is wedded to it. In order to keep it, over the past few years they've raised farecard rates while leaving it at $1.50. That's produced a situation where the vast majority of riders save little by using farecards. If HRT wanted to raise revenue while pushing regular ridership, they'd hike the $1.50 while leaving the farecards untouched.
We should be producing a fare structure that encourages regular ridership rather than penalizing it. Keep the 10 Ride, institute the Day Pass, and look at the $1.50 farebox fare if you need money. You bet I plan on being at the Public Hearing!