The Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority has made several changes to its fare policies that passengers who use the region's public transportation services may have already realized took effect on the first of the year.
The LAVTA board approved rate changes at its Oct. 1 meeting after conducting a study the previous spring analyzing the trends of the nearly 2 million passengers who use the agency's Wheels bus and paratransit services every year in a variety of ways.
"One of those trends is that many transit agencies are moving away from paper fare media, such as transfers and tickets because of issues with fare evasion and fraud," LAVTA officials said in a statement after the proposed changes were introduced in September. "(The) changes are intended to increase revenue without significantly impacting ridership; to have an easily understood fare policy; and to have a fare policy that promotes safe and timely bus operations."
Board members held a series of public meeting throughout September to hear the public's opinions. The board received a series of emails with varying opinions and areas of concern, but overall the public response was generally supportive.
While various changes will affect the way commuters purchase tickets, and in some cases the price of those tickets, the fixed rate single ride regular cash fare of $2 and the discounted senior/disabled passenger fare of $1 will remain unchanged.
Changes that took effect as of Tuesday include:
* A new youth fare, which aims to benefit current youth passengers and hopefully encourage new ones to take public transportation more often. For $1.60, passengers 18 years old and younger can take a ride with their Youth Clipper Card, which will effectively be replacing LAVTA's Fare Buster tickets.
Youth Clipper Cards can be purchased online at www.clippercard.com or in person at the Wheels Administrative Offices and the downtown Livermore Transit Center, 2500 Railroad Ave. Residents should be aware the discount youth fare cannot be purchased with cash.
* Presumably in an attempt to promote their mission of providing green ecofriendly services and reducing fraud, LAVTA officials have announced paper transfers will no longer be issued or accepted as fare payment on Wheels and Rapid buses. Clipper Card users will instead be issued a single transfer, which must be used within two hours of their first fare payment
Passengers transferring from BART who have used their Clipper Cards as payment on their previous BART ride will receive a credit toward Wheels or Rapid, Adults will receive a $1 credit, seniors and RTC passengers 50 cents and youth 80 cents.
* Fare Buster tickets are not the only ones to be placed on the chopping block as LAVTA will also no longer sell Senior/Disabled 10-ride tickets to passengers. Passengers who have already purchased these tickets should fear not, as they will still be accepted by drivers for one more year, expiring on Dec. 31, 2019.
Fare Buster and Senior/Disabled ticket users who will be unable to be issued a transfer ticket can still trade in two tickets and be issued one unlimited Day Pass.
* Unlimited rides during a single day has become available for all passengers to purchase for the first time. Previously Day Passes were only available for passengers using Clipper Cards as payment. Unlimited Day Passes are priced at $3.75 for adults and $1.75 for seniors and disabled passengers.
LAVTA officials highlight this as a cost effective measure, as both Day Pass options are priced below the cost of two single cash fares.
*Senior/Disabled/Medicare monthly pass fares will see perhaps the biggest change, as of Tuesday fares for this section have increased from $18 to $22.
* Individual one-way trip on LAVTA's Dial-a-Ride Paratransit will be set at $3.75, with 10 ride Dial-a-Ride Paratransit tickets continuing to be sold at $37.50.
More information on how the changes will affect passengers and their commute can be found online at wheelsbus.com.