BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
A new bus fare schedule proposed by the Rockland County Department of Transportation significantly reduces fare discounts for seniors, the disabled and regular riders. General fares will remain unchanged, but general transfer rates are proposed to double from $0.50 to $1.
Currently seniors and disabled citizens pay $0.75 per Transport of Rockland (TOR) bus ride and $1 for every TAPPAN ZEExpress (TZx) ride. Those rates, which are discounted from the general rates of $2 for TOR and $3 for TZx, will be raised to $1 and $1.50 respectively under the Department’s proposed fare schedule. Transfer rates for seniors and disabled are proposed to double from $0.25 to $0.50.
TRIPS Paratransit, described as “a curbside-to-curbside paratransit bus service for Rockland County residents with physical or mental disabilities, or senior citizens aged 60 or over, who find it difficult or impossible to use fixed-route bus service” will see its cash fare doubled from $2 to $4, should the proposed schedule be approved. ADA fares will remain $4. Ten-trip TRIPS discount booklets are to increase 250 percent, from $12 to $30, under the schedule.
The county defends this hike, noting that TRIPS services are particularly expensive, costing an average of $43 per round trip passenger.
For regular riders, the proposed fare schedule replaces the current TOR 10-trip discount booklet, which costs only $11, with a far less generous “Buy 10 get one free” discount for riders who sign up for “e-fares.” The TZx discount book for 10 rides once offered a 65 percent discount versus single fare rates. Now TZx will offer only the same “Buy 10 get one free” discount for riders signed up for the new “e-fare” system.
However, the Department has proposed new volume-discounted electronic fares including a TOR Unlimited 7-day E-Pass, a TZx Unlimited 30-day E-Pass and a TOR College Student Unlimited Semester E-Pass. Rates for those passes have not been advertised, as yet.
The Department of Transportation said that the new rates for seniors and disabled are in line with industry standard of half the regular rate. The Department has opened a Public Comment period for bus riders to provide input on the proposed new fare options and public hearings will take place on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at the Palisades Center Mall Raso Room (fourth floor). An afternoon hearing will be offered from 2 to 4 p.m. and an evening hearing from 6 to 8 p.m.
Comments may also be made in writing to the Rockland County Department of Public Transportation, Attention: Fare Increases, Building T, 50 Sanatorium Road, Pomona, NY 10970, or via the Department’s website www.rocklandbus.com, via email to [email protected], by voice message to 845-364-2062, or by fax to 845-364-2074.