Trolley rides cost a quarter starting Monday
Starting Monday, Aug. 14, the Port Aransas Trolley will no longer carry passengers on a loop around the city for free. The Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) has imposed a 25-cent fare on the trolley, which has been free since its inception.
Also going up are fares on the Port Aransas Flexi-B, the bus that carries passengers from here to Corpus Christi. Flexi-B fares, previously 50 cents, will increase to $1.25 for a one-way trip.
The increase was seen as imminent ever since representatives from the RTA spoke to the Port Aransas City Council about the proposal in September, 2004. At that time, the RTA was talking about a 25-cent fare for the trolley and a 75-cent fare for the Flexi-B.
Early this year, both the RTA board of directors and the local government fare review committee unanimously approved those increases, as well as across-the-board increases for fares on other RTA routes in and around Corpus Christi.
In a newsletter to patrons, the RTA pointed out that fares have not increased since 1986. However, other prices, such as gasoline, bread and milk, have gone up as much as 200 percent in the same period, the newsletter said.
The newsletter called the fares "one of the lowest in Texas."
In the 12 months ending in June of this year, ridership on the Flexi-B has averaged 674 a month, according to figures kept by the City of Port Aransas. Those numbers peaked in January, February and March with 986, 922 and 928 riders, respectively, indicating that much of the patronage of the Flexi-B comes from Winter Texans.
In the same period, trolley patronage totaled 20,142 and averaged 1,679 riders a month. The heaviest months for the trolley were June (2,075), July (2,249) and March (2,381), city figures show.
Based on earlier one-way fares, the Flexi-B brought in $1,751.50 during those 12 months and can be expected to bring in $4,378.75 during the next year if passenger numbers remain the same.
In that same period next year, trolley fares could be expected to total $5,035.50 - again, assuming the same number of passengers use the bus.
Under the agreement between the city and the RTA, 1/2 cent of the city's sales tax is earmarked for RTA expenses. Last year that totaled $365,154, which was automatically sent to the transportation agency by the state comptroller's office in Austin.
Of that, the RTA returned $106,800 to the city to pay for drivers and other expenses the city pays, as well as $4,000 to reimburse the city for administering the program - a total of $110,800.
The RTA also contributed funds to help pay for Port Aransas street repairs, but exact figures on those funds weren't immediately available.
City council members unanimously opposed the fare increase when it was first proposed by the RTA and have continued to object to it whenever the subject was brought up. When the RTA board voted on the increases, Port Aransas board member Glenn Martin was the only one to vote in opposition.