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Council says Dial-A-Ride customers will see double (updated)

Prices for cab rides from Claremont’s nonprofit transportation system Dial-A-Ride will be doubling.

The Claremont City Council approved the fare increase unanimously Tuesday night, with no comment from the public. With the council’s approval, Dial-A-Ride service costs will rise to $1.50 for seniors, $2.50 for the general public, $4 for outside the city or after hours, $1 for a second rider and $1 for group service by January 2013.

Though fare increases, especially in economically difficult times, are not always favorable, council members and staff felt it was necessary in order to continue to provide the city-sponsored transportation service.

“I know it’s always shocking when you double anything,” said Mayor Larry Schroeder. “I hate to raise rates, but if we are going to continue this program we have to do something.”

Mr. Schroeder’s sentiments were echoed by a majority of the public surveyed at several community meetings over the last several months, said Claremont Management Analyst Cari Sneed. Presented with 3 options—doubling prices, cutting hours or limiting the number of rides one person can receive—nearly all were in favor of the first.

Many of those surveyed felt limiting rides in any way “would be a detriment to their daily operations,” said Ms. Sneed, adding, “Those that expressed concern...did say with more efficient use of the service that they would still be able to maintain their livelihood through these fare increases.”

Problems with available funding for the Dial-A-Ride program were first brought before the council last April. It was clear with the program’s increased popularity that something needed to be done in order to ensure that the program would continue at its current level. The dramatic rise seen in the general public use may be due in part to rising gas prices and the local economy, Ms. Sneed speculated with agreement from others. While membership has tripled, the price of Dial-A-Ride fares has remained the same since 2000.

“The Dial-A-Ride program is unsustainable at its current growth,” Ms. Sneed said. “The increase in ridership resulted in an increase of revenues, but not enough to offset the growth and the cost to operate the service. If we continue to grow at the current level, [Claremont Dial-A-Ride] will only survive for another 2-and-a-half years.”

Cutting the program entirely was never an option considered by the city. Setting aside the appropriate  funds to see the service continue through the next couple years, council directed the community and human services commission to review the program. Through an ad hoc committee, the commission found that most would like to see the city devote its money to programs such as Dial-A-Ride rather than purchasing passes through Foothill Transit or Metro.

By raising the fees, the city believes it will be able to see the program continue for years to come. City council members and administration will continue to monitor the effects of raising the cab fares with a review to be held September 2013 and another in January 2014, a year after implementation of the increase. In the meantime, the city will look to host information sessions and other forms of education about the program to encourage proper usage and hopefully curb overusage.

“As the council’s appointee to the PVTA, I can attest to the fact that they have really done their best to deal with the issue and be sensitive to the needs of our ridership,” Councilmember Joe Lyons said. “This is a good educational opportunity.”

 

Economic partnership continues

despite funding issues

Claremont will look for ways to continue its membership with the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership (SGVEP) despite lack of identified funding sources.

The SGVEP is a regional nonprofit collective that aims to improve the success rate of businesses and other economic stimuli throughout the region. Of the 31 cities that make up the San Gabriel Valley, 25 are members of the partnership.

Direction was given to city staff by Councilmember Sam Pedroza and supported by Councilmember Joe Lyons, who believes the membership provides a vital benefit to the city. Though Claremont’s previous funding source—redevelopment monies—is no longer available, a secondary source should be found, according to Mr. Pedroza.

“It truly is the voice for not just businesses, but for cities as well,” Mr. Pedroza said. “Claremont is a big part of the San Gabriel Valley and we would be a lost voice if we don’t reconsider our membership.”

The city’s current membership is expected to expire late October. Research into a potential new funding source to continue Claremont’s SGVEP membership will be brought back to the council’s second meeting in October, according to City Manager Tony Ramos.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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