The city of Tucson is asking for feedback on how to save money on the Sun Tran bus system, and is considering raising fares and changing bus routes, but Councilman Paul Cunningham the plans aren't an ideal way to serve riders while cutting the budget.
Last week, the Tucson City Council voted to ask for public comment on a plan that could save $2.4 million by raising bus fares, and by changing bus routes to make them more efficient and eliminate duplications.
Cunningham voted to send the proposals to a public comment period, and the council will likely make final decisions in May. It will have to make a decision by the end of June, when it must finalize the city budget before the next fiscal year begins July 1.
"All we're doing right now is putting it out for public comment just to have a discussion about fares," he said.
The proposed changes are part of a discussion on how to reduce the $33 million deficit in the city budget. The $4.8 million is shy of the city's goal to make up $6 million of the deficit through changes to the Sun Tran bus system.
"There's four proposals, quite frankly I'm not crazy about any of them," he said.
The increases would affect the "most vulnerable" riders in Tucson, he said. He disagrees with raising the fares by 10 or 20 percent, and said the council has seen outcry about the proposals.
"Obviously no one wants to see a fare increase and that's the reaction we get every time," he said.
There are 25,000 to 30,000 riders per day, he said, and the average fare captured is $1 per ride. That amount is between the full fare and reduced fare for low-income riders.
The city should not be looking to cut bus routes or reduce the amount of bus service it provides, he said.
"I will not vote to cut service," he said.