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CTS fares “adjusted”: Elimination of transfers could double cost for many riders

Approve an increase in bus fares, then hold a public hearing. The city’s Transportation Committee has unanimously approved the new CTS rate structure. The Clarksville Transit System has now scheduled a public hearing for August 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the Clarksville Public Library, where it will explain to the public the planned fare structure and proposed route changes and take public input on those changes. Concerned CTS riders and all citizens can also respond to the increases by mail if unable to attend the hearing (legal notice and mailing address at end of story). Currently, the changes will go into effect on September 1.

Clarksville Transit Center, the downtown hub for connecting buses

As it stands, the new fare structure means cost of riding city buses could nearly double for many people who use the Clarksville Transit System. While the actual fare per ride will remain unchanged at $1.00 per ride, the 25 cent transfers will be history. That means riders who need to transfer would pay full fare for that second ride, the second half of their journey. Since it is impossible to go from the western side of town along Fort Campbell Boulevard to the mall area along Wilma Rudolph Boulevard or to Madison Street and the Sango area without a transfer, all of those passengers could see their transit costs nearly double. The elimination of transfers translates to a de facto 75 cent increase in bus fare for riders who need to utilize two buses navigate across town or into adjoining residential neighborhoods.

For example, anyone living in the Peacher’s Mills or Cunnigham Loop areas who would be coming or going from a business on the northern parameter of Fort Campbell Boulevard would still transfer at the Fort Campbell WalMart but would now pay a second full fare. Anyone who must travel on the Fort Campbell, Peacher’s Mill or Cunningham Loop buses to get the Hospital, Clarksville Public Library, municipal offices at Pageant Lane, the Department of Human Services or Health Department, all of which require trannsfers, will pay $4.00 per round trip with the new fare structure. Buying a day pass at $3.50 would be cheaper by 50 cents, even if it is only needed for one round trip.

No mentioned has been made of extending the hours of operation for city buses, adding Sunday service or the use of smaller “mini” buses on routes with lower ridership, nor has the city considered a gradual switching to alternative fuel buses as many major urban areas are now doing (even New York City is running electric buses cross town).

The CTS claims its basic fares, that $1 per ride and slightly lower fares for seniors and mobility impaired people, will remain unchanged. Except for the price of that ride on a second bus.

The elimination of service to WalMart in Oak Grove, Kentucky, could also eliminate service to the some areas on the northern fringe of Clarksville along the Kentucky border. The CTS will also include discussions of adjustments to routes Including, for example, the Bus 6 that now serves the new Gateway Hospital.

APSU students will have free CTA transit and shutltle service across campus, with Austin Peay State University uderwriting that cost at $71,000 per year, with a contract stipulating up to 3% increase per year.

The APSU Student Government Association, in contracting with CTS, will “provide students, faculty and staff free transportation around campus via The Peay Pickup and around town on CTS buses.” The CTS operated Peay Trolley pick-up will run across campus from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays when the university is in session. Student activity fees will cover that cost.

Clarksville Transit System will operate the Peay Pick-up Trolley on and around campus between 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. weekdays when classes are in session. Peay pick-up cards are required for students using this new free transit system. Those pick-up cards will be available at both the Office of Student Affairs and the Morgan University Information Desk.

The Transportation Committee approved the following changes in transit rates:

  • $3.50 for an unlimited day pass (a 50 cent increase)
  • $45 for a 31-day pass (a $5 increase)
  • $22.50 for a senior or mobility-impaired pass (a $2.50 cent increase)

At the hearing, CTS Director Jimmie Smith said fuel costs last year rose $145,000 over anticipated costs which were based on $2.25 per gallon. CTS is now scrambling to recoup that cost through this amended fare structure.

The public hearing will be an opportunity for those affected by this new fare schedule and proposed routes changes before they go into effect on September 1.

In posting a legal notice about the hearing, the CTS states:

“The purpose of the Public Hearing is increases and adjustments in the CTS bus fare, including transfers and changes in some bus routes. At the hearing the CTS will consider public comments both oral and written. Anyone having questions or comments, or to get more information about the public hearing, may contact the Clarksville Transit System at (931) 553-2430 or write the Clarksville Transit System, 430 Boillin Lane, Clarksville, Tennessee, 37040.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. The elimination of transfers is unheralded. Nowhere else in the nation are public transportation eliminating bus transfers. Increases to the transfer rate, yes, but not the outright elimination. This just doesn’t make sense. The very segment of the public that most utilizes CTS can ill-afford this doubling of their transportation costs.

    Mass transit is known to be a non-self-supporting exercise of local government operations nation-wide. CTS is to be commended for keepings its expenses wihtin an acceptable range, however, now it is imperative to look at service options that best serve the traveling public and offer good ridership potentials. The Oak Grove Wal-Mart run should not be dropped. Combine it with the newly expanded service to the Great Escape Complex and ridership should prove quite rewarding. That NE corridor has needed improved bus service for many years.

    Using smaller buses other than peak hour opertaion is a sane idea and should be investigated.Electric buses are certainly something CTS can pursue thru its FTA/FHA funding schedule.

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