While it may not directly affect students at the College of William and Mary, changes to the local bus system marked an important development for the Williamsburg community last week.
Last Wednesday, the Williamsburg Area Transit Authority Board of Directors passed a variety of changes to the area’s bus fares, including increases in the prices of some fares and a pass program intended to save money for the transit system’s regulars.
The increased fares are due to expiring grant funds that comprise 22 percent of WATA’s budget.
“With our grants expiring, we need to supplement the funds we’re losing,” Lindsay LeGrand ’09, WATA Communications Specialist, said. “The pass program is meant to soften the economic blow [of increased fares].”
The board increased the price of daily bus passes from $1.50 to $2 in addition to raising the cost of trolley passes from 50 cents to $1. Middle and high school students, who currently receive free transportation, will have to pay 50 cents for a one-way pass. A regular one-way pass will remain $1.25.
“The goWATA Pass Program offers more flexible and affordable options, especially for frequent riders,” a Williamsburg Area Transport Authority press release said.
This program offers a book of six daily passes and a seven-day unlimited pass, each for $10, as well as a 30-day unlimited pass for $35.
All of these changes to WATA fares will take effect Jan. 3, 2012.
The press release states that WATA held four public meetings in the community to discuss these changes in fares and welcomed feedback from the community. One of these forums was held at the College in September.
LeGrand said that she does not expect the changes to affect the frequency of bus usage.
“That’s what the pass program is for,” LeGrand said. “It has to do with the elasticity of the market. Some people won’t want to pay the new fares, but the passes will soften the blow for people who really depend on the buses. Using the monthly pass can save people 40 percent of their fares.”
While College students do not pay directly for their bus rides, they also are paying more for public transportation with WATA this year: The flat rate students pay for General Auxiliary Services that covers bus transit increased by $1 to $27 per semester.
“The price raises seem to affect commuters more than students,” Kelsey Renoll ’15, a prospective business major, said. “An increase of $1 does not really affect me. Raising funds is better than shortening hours, though.”