Kitsap Transit preparing to slash its fares

"Kitsap Transit plans to collect by mid-December the additional sales tax revenue approved by voters last month. But commuters could benefit from the measure much sooner.Kitsap Transit Service Development Director John Clauson already announced on June 5 that, among other ticket-price cuts, bus and Access customers could expect 50 percent cash fare reductions by Aug. 1.We're expecting ridership levels to go up significantly in the wake of any proposed fare reductions, said Kitsap Transit Executive Director Richard Hayes. We are also proposing to adjust the (transit) budget in September to reflect changes in revenue, although the change won't be significant since we won't see the (tax revenue) receipts until mid-December.Because of this new revenue source and consequent fare-reduction proposals, the agency has scheduled a series of public meetings later in June throughout Kitsap County. The idea is to introduce the agency's overall ticket price reduction plan, which would roll back fares to 1999 levels. Meetings will be held in Poulsbo, Silverdale and Port Orchard, and transit representatives also are scheduled to ride various cross-Sound ferries during the morning commute to let riders know about the fare reduction plan.By a narrow margin, county voters in May approved Proposition 1, which allows Kitsap Transit to collect an additional 3 cents on every $10 purchase in the county.Revenue generated from the collection is anticipated to reach $7.8 million, still shy of the $10. 3 million Transit lost when Initiative 695 and subsequent legislative and executive action eliminated the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) fund last spring.As planned, the Kitsap Transit Board of Commissioners last Tuesday authorized the collection of the additional three-tenths of 1 percent in sales taxes. Meanwhile, Kitsap Transit officials are immediately plowing ahead with fare-reduction and service increase proposals. Taxpayers will see the increase on their sales receipts beginning in October.The fare reduction proposal provides commuters with significant breaks, including the following changes:* Regular cash fares on routed bus service would drop from $2 to $1, while reduced-cash fares on those routes would be reduced from $1 to 50 cents.* Currently, regular monthly passes for routed bus service cost $40. The proposal calls for slashing that price to $25. The reduced monthly passes are currently priced at $20, but the proposal would cut that price in half.* The $5 day passes would be eliminated on the regular and Access services.* Transfers for the Access and routed bus service, which are currently only good for one hour at Transfer Centers, would, under the proposal, be valid instead for two hours from anywhere on the route system.* Kitsap Transit's vanpool fare structure would drop overall by 40 percent.* Under the proposal, pre-paid, 40-ride punch tickets for the worker-driver bus program would drop from $50 to $30, and one-way cash fares would drop from $2 to $1.* Monthly passes for the worker-driver program would drop from $40 to $25, and the reduced-fare passes would drop from $20 to $10. "

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