The city will hold two public meetings to discuss major changes proposed for Ceres Area Transit (CAT) fares, routes, and hours of service; and Ceres Dial-a-Ride (CDAR) fares, eligibility for service, and hours of service.
The city is proposing an increase in rates as well as a consolidation of routes to become more cost-effective.
The city operates to separate transportation systems. CAT buses operate over fixed routes on fixed schedules and stop only at designated locations. CDAR provides door-to-door service anywhere within Ceres in response to specific requests.
The changes are designed to increase the ratio of fare revenues to operating expenses (fare box ratio) on July 1 to meet the State Transportation Development Act (TDA) requirements. The state requires the city to collect enough fares to cover at least 20 percent of operating costs. During 2014-15 budget year Ceres Dial-A-Ride had a fare box ratio of 10.96 percent while Ceres Area Transit buses posted a 12.88 percent ratio. A financial penalty is imposed by the state on transit agencies that don't meet fare box ratio requirements.
Because Ceres is on the verge of major changes to both systems, the state is giving the city a two-year exemption from the fare box ratio requirement, said Fred Cavanah of the city of Ceres Transit Services.
CAT routes A and B are proposed to be combined into one shorter route while routes C and D would be eliminated. Service would operate from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays with no weekend service. CAT currently operates 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Staff is proposing to limit Dial-a-Ride to seniors and persons with disabilities only. Cavanah explained that if CDAR service is limited to seniors and the disabled, the city is only required to meet a 10 percent fare box ratio as opposed to the 20 percent it would have to meet by serving all persons. He said dial-a-ride systems rarely generate the 20 percent fare box ratio. He said people cut out of CDAR service have the option of riding CAT buses.
Ceres Dial-A-Ride would continue operating seven days each week, except holidays, but would reduce hours of service. CDAR service would end at 6 p.m. on weekends instead of 8 p.m., and on Sundays end at 3 p.m. instead of 4 p.m.
Fares are also proposed to increase for both systems. Rides would double from $1.50 to $3 for CAT trips and $3 per trip for CDAR for all riders, with the exception that one child age 5 or younger who would continue to ride free for each fare paying passenger. Care attendants for persons with disabilities would also continue to ride free.
A pass is also being considered that would allow unlimited rides for 31 days on CAT for $39. Current fares range from $1.50 to $2.00 for CAT and $1.50 to $2.15 for CDAR.
Transit system changes are necessary to meet state mandated financial requirements.
Two meetings are set on the proposed changes. The first takes place from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 5; and the second will be from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 6. Both will be held in the second floor classroom of the Ceres Community Center, 2701 Fourth Street, Ceres. The meetings will be similar to an open house with no formal presentations made. Transit staff will be on hand to take input and answer questions.
After the meetings, staff will submit a final proposal to the Ceres City Council in August. If approved, the changes would take place in October.
A link to a brochure on the changes is available online at www.ci.ceres.ca.us and clicking on the red letters, PROPOSED CHANGES TO CERES TRANSIT SERVICES, toward the bottom of the home page.
For more information call 538-5792.