BY JAMES HARPER
Volusia County Councilman Josh Wagner, who represents the majority of Daytona Beach, said he voted last week to start the process of increasing the cost to ride the Votran by 50 cents because he wanted to give Votran the opportunity to conduct meetings to hear from the public.
Volusia County Government spokesman Dave Byron said no date has been set yet for a final public hearing and that it will probably won’t happen until later in the year.
Byron also noted that “any fare increase likely would be effective early next year.”
Raise fares or reduce service
Councilwomen Deb Denys and Joyce Cusack voted against moving ahead with the increase.
Wagner, who agreed with Pat Northey, Pat Patterson, Doug Daniels and Volusia County Chair Jason Davis to begin the process, told the the Daytona Times this week, that he is not sure he will support the increase during the final vote.
“I am looking forward to hearing from public. The problem is that we either need to raise fares or reduce the level of service. The only other option is to increase the general fund subsidy. However, there appears to be little support for in increased subsidy,” Wagner concluded.
Current fare in place since 2007
According to information provided to council members, Votran faces a projected increase to the general fund subsidy of an additional $2 million forecasted in 2015.
Votran’s current fare structure has been in place since January 2007.
Staff members propose increasing the single ride cash fare to $1.50 with an accompanying increase in pass prices. The estimated additional annual revenue generated is $231,533.
“If fares were increased to $1.75 with an accompanying increase in pass prices, the estimated additional annual revenue would be $347,778,” said the documents obtained by the Daytona Times.
Lower than statewide average
The County Council wants to raise the fares in two steps.
The target date for first increase would be Feb. 2, 2014. A second increase would occur Feb. 2, 2015.
Revenue generated by a fare increase would help to deal with the funding challenge. Currently, the fixed route case fare is $1.25 and the day pass is $3.
These amounts are lower than the statewide average of other Florida transit systems.
The county hosted a meeting with city leaders hoping they would volunteer to chip in to pay for increase in costs to operate the bus system.
County Manager Jim Dinneen recommended the 50-cent increase after there was no offer of help from any of the local cities.