San Diego’s public transit patrons had lighter pockets this Sunday, as a new fare structure that includes the first fee increases in decades took effect. Designed to increase fare revenues, serve as an easier-to-understand fare structure, and make up for a structural budget deficit, this increase compensates for a 25 percent climb in public transit operating costs.
These changes come at a time when California’s legislators are considering big upgrades for public transportation, such as the “5 Big Moves” proposed by SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata. Such upgrades rely heavily on the improvement of the popularity of public transport, and the recent fee increases are making these already infeasible ideas even more difficult.
The new fare structure will undoubtedly sit poorly with San Diegans who rely on low public transportation costs to get around the city. With our current deficit resulting in one price increase, it’s no leap to conclude that big public transit upgrades would jeopardize transit users even more.
Anyone who understands basic economics better than our local Democratic legislators and bureaucrats will know that increases in costs decrease demand. Losing riders will make the already wounded San Diego public transit system bleed out even more. The only victims of this convoluted, broken system are our citizens.
Halting plans such as the 5 Big Moves until our budget stabilizes is the least our local government can do in light of the declining interest and increasing cost of public transit. It’s a shame that fees are rising, but it’ll be even more costly to invest in massive transformations to a system already falling to pieces.
Photo by Josh Esh