LANCASTER – The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) will be charging new fares starting Tuesday, Sept. 1. The fare changes, approved by AVTA’s Board of Directors in May, will allow the transit agency to take steps to expand and improve its service in order to keep up with the growing ridership trend. View the 2015 fare change brochure here.
“Our goal is to consistently provide our customers with a transit system that runs as effectively and efficiently as possible,” stated Executive Director Len Engel. “As the number of people using our service increases, we must respond accordingly and take measures to ensure that we continue to offer the highest quality service to the residents of the Antelope Valley.”
In local transit service, one of the most notable changes will be the institution of a half-fare rate of 75 cents for seniors and disabled passengers, who previously had unlimited free rides on AVTA local buses. This change became necessary when the number of passengers riding for free steadily increased to 53 percent, according to AVTA officials. The free ride program generated a 30 percent increase in ridership in just four years but fare revenue actually dropped by 1 percent.
There are several programs to assist those who cannot afford the added cost. Seniors with a Reduced Fare TAP card can apply for a special annual pass which will allow them to continue to ride for free on local transit, through the AVAQMD, City of Lancaster, and Los Angeles County -funded Senior Annual Pass Program.
Also, the Rider Relief Transportation Program provides discount coupons to eligible individuals of all ages that may be used toward the cost of any single AVTA bus pass. Free rides will remain for those disabled passengers who qualify for a Los Angeles County Access Services card, as this agency reimburses AVTA for each provided trip. Veterans, Personal Care Attendants with proper identification, and children under 44 inches will also continue to ride for free on AVTA.
AVTA will begin selling its Day Pass onboard buses at an increased cost of $5.00. This price has not been changed in over a decade, and is intended to provide customers with a discount should they need to take four or more buses in one day.
Another significant change will be the elimination of the TAP card discount. The discount was introduced to encourage customers to load AVTA fare products onto the TAP smart card, and simply tap their card when boarding instead of paying cash. The incentive has been ineffective at encouraging customers to use TAP, hence the discount is being eliminated.
All of AVTA’s commuter service routes will have new adjusted fares, which are necessary to cover increased operating expenses that are connected to the addition of three new commuter runs in October 2014.
The TAP card discount will also be eliminated on commuter services, and both the cash and TAP fares will be the same.
Finally, the North County Transporter’s one-way fare will be adjusted from $4 to $5. This service was created in August 2012 through a grant from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The grant funds are no longer available and a fare adjustment is needed in order to maintain service levels.
“AVTA has not had a fare increase in six years, but we are now faced with significant challenges” said Engel. “he fare changes are in response to substantial customer feedback we’ve received, requesting more buses, later service hours and improved frequency. It is our responsibility as a public agency to do what it takes to meet the needs of those we serve.”
Local or commuter monthly passes for September may be purchased before Sept. 1 at the old rate, but will still be valid for the month of September. All bus passes purchased Sept. 1 and after will be charged the new rate.
AVTA customers are encouraged to visit the AVTA website at www.avta.com for more information on the upcoming fare changes. Customers can also contact the AVTA Customer Service department at 661-945-9445 for information regarding fare changes, the Senior Annual Pass program, and the Rider Relief Transportation program.
[Information via news release from the Antelope Valley Transit Authority.]