Commuters will have to pull out an extra dime –– or two –– to ride the bus in Nashville.
Metro Transit Authority’s board of directors voted Thursday to approve a 10-cent hike on basic routes, raising fares from $1.60 to $1.70. The board approved a 20-percent increase in the Access Cash cab fare, a bump from $3.20 to $3.40.
Increases, scrutinized during a series of public meetings in November, mark the transit authority’s first fare adjustments in four years. Metro officials say rising health care costs, coupled with fuel and operating demands, make the fare hikes necessary. The authority relies on more than 1.7 million gallons of diesel fuel each year.
“We are committed to providing high quality, cost-efficient services and want to avoid cutting services,” MTA CEO Paul J. Ballard said in a statement. “It is necessary to make these modest increases.”
In addition to the MTA fare increases, the Regional Transportation Authority on Wednesday approved a 50-cent increase in its regional express bus fare, raising it to $4. The price for a 20-ride pass for the regional express is now $70.
All changes are effective Jan. 6.
The decision to approve the bus fare hikes comes during a momentous week for mass transit in Nashville.
On Monday, Mayor Karl Dean announced plans to “move boldly forward” with a $136 million bus rapid transit project along a so-called east-west connector –– extending from West End Avenue and White Bridge Road, to downtown Broadway, across the Cumberland River to East Nashville.
Though funding is still unclear, Dean said he hopes to have the new BRT system in place by late 2014 or early 2015.