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City transit rides to cost a bit more
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City officials have approved a set of changes for the Ceres Dial-A-Ride and Ceres Area Transit bus system.

The city is raising fares in order to satisfy the federal government's requirement that the system pulls in at least 10 percent of its operations cost through the fare box. The city's costs of operating the transit system have gone up mostly due to higher labor costs.

The City Council last week approved a change to alter Ceres Area Transit (CAT) Route B to include more commercial areas in an attempt to increase ridership and fare box receipts. The city has found that the CAT route A has good ridership in northeast Ceres but finds CAT route B lacking. By expanding the route out further north on Crows Landing Road and head east on Whitmore Avenue to stop at new businesses, the city hopes to get more riders.

"We feel CAT route B could be improved," said Kay Dunkel, an administrative analyst with the city of Ceres.

City officials are also adopting a new and tougher policy intended to curb the number of people who call for rides but aren't there to meet the bus when it arrives. Currently the city's policy cuts off bus service to anyone who has three no-shows within a 30-day period. If the person doesn't have another no-show in the next 30 days, riding privileges are restored. The new policy would change things to where a third no-show within the next 12 months could suspend riding privileges. Riding suspensions are for 30 days only.

The city will be increasing Dial-A-Ride general fares from $1.25 to $1.75 effective July 1. Fares for seniors 65 and older as well as disabled persons would increase from $1 to $1.25 per ride.

The general fare is to rise from $1 to $1.25 per ride for the fixed route system while fares for seniors and disabled rise from 75 cents to $1.

Dunkel said it was important to raise rates but not too much "as a loss in ridership could occur." She said the city is not currently meeting the minimum 10 percent farebox ratio and needs to do so.

CAT service will not be eliminated on Sundays as previously thought, said Dunkel.

If Proposition 1B funds are granted to the city of Ceres, the city wants to also intice more riders by upgrading five bus stations with shelters and lighting at a cost of $66,000. The city should know after June 10 if the funds will be made available.