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Wichita Transit using consulting firm to evaluate fare structure

The transit officials and consultants will be at the downtown Transit Center, 214 S. Topeka, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday to get riders’ perspective on fares. At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the transit officials and consultants are scheduled to present a report to the Wichita Transit Advisory Board, Spade said.
The transit officials and consultants will be at the downtown Transit Center, 214 S. Topeka, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday to get riders’ perspective on fares. At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the transit officials and consultants are scheduled to present a report to the Wichita Transit Advisory Board, Spade said. File photo

Wichita Transit is launching a top-to-bottom review of its fare structure to try to figure out how to maximize both ridership and revenue, beginning with a series of meetings with a national consulting firm on Monday and Tuesday.

Transit officials and consultants from the San Francisco-based firm Nelson/Nygaard will meet with a variety of stakeholders in the transit system, including representatives of the social services, business and education sectors, said Transit Director Steve Spade.

The transit officials and consultants will be at the downtown Transit Center, 214 S. Topeka, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday to get riders’ perspective on fares. At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the transit officials and consultants are scheduled to present a report to the Wichita Transit Advisory Board, Spade said.

Spade said the process of evaluating the fare structure is just starting and Tuesday’s meeting will be mostly to talk about the parameters of the upcoming Nelson/Nygaard study.

The transit staff is seeking information on why people ride the buses, why they don’t ride the buses, and what kind of fare structure would bring about the best results, Spade said.

“We’re going to take a look at who’s riding and what form of payment they’re using,” he said. “At the end of the day, our goal is to develop a fare pricing structure ... encouraging people to ride the bus and maximizing revenue.”

He said the department particularly wants to look at whether the transit system is spending too much effort on payment options that generate paperwork but that few riders actually use – and whether there’s a way to offer more useful or popular programs.

At present, riders can pay cash at the bus, or buy unlimited ride tickets of one-day, 7-day and 30-day duration. In addition, bus patrons can buy a 20-ride ticket either at the Transit Center or Dillons stores.

Regular fares range from 85 cents a ride for seniors and people with disabilities to $2 for a full-fare adult ticket with a transfer.

The 11 different types of passes offered range from $5 for a one-day unlimited ticket, to $190 for a 120-day semester pass for college students.

The Transit Advisory Board meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Transit Maintenance Facility, 777 E. Waterman, Wichita.

Reach Dion Lefler at 316-268-6527 or dlefler@wichitaeagle.com.

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