Public weighs in on higher bus ticket prices and limited monthly RADAR rides

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Bus rides may be getting more expensive in Roanoke. Valley Metro is considering a fare increase, and a limit on how many RADAR rides disabled people can use per month.

Thursday, riders weighed in during a public hearing.

Around three dozen people sat in the meeting listening to nearly 20 people discuss issues with Valley Metro, including the fare increase from $1.50 to $1.75.

Tanda Blevins has been a driver for RADAR for 15 years.

She said, "I'm afraid that not all of the clients can afford these increases. I'm wondering if there's anyway that it's based on salary or income."

Cheryl Daniels from Vinton said, "We're not getting pay increases. Businesses are going belly up around here! Our cost of living is going up because we're having to go other places to get things because they're not even available here anymore."

4But not everyone Thursday night was so strongly against increasing the rates by a quarter per ride.

Jacob Watts of Roanoke explained, "If you're going to up the rates, at least let some people be benefited, like staying out later [and] let people stay out Sunday."

Vinton Treasurer and Finance Director Anne Cantrell said in the hearing, "I'm here tonight on behalf of the Town of Vinton to state that we are in favor of the fair increase and the limit on the monthly pass."

Actually, it's the discussion into the monthly pass for RADAR riders that caused much more conversation. The proposed plan is to limit the number of rides disabled riders can use per month to 52.

John Conway of Roanoke said, "I do over 120 trips a month. So that will definitely not work."

"That is my only transportation," Roanoke resident David Rogers said. "I just don't want to be cut back on how many times I'm allowed to ride."

Stephen Grammer of Roanoke said, "How is this fair to people with disabilities and the elderly with no income, period."

The public hearing was help by the Board of Greater Roanoke Transit Company.

Board President Bill Bestpitch said of the issue, "That's something we are going to continue to discuss and look at very carefully."

People used the Public Hearing to bring up other issues like longer hours, buses running more frequently, and going farther distances.

Bestpitch said the Board will consider everything that was discussed Thursday, but action on those two won't come until January, at the earliest.

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