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      MTA considers fare increase, limits Your Ride trips

      Your Ride drops off customer / Rob Zielesch

      Update: March 24th, 8:45 a.m.

      The MTA says they intend to start implementing suspensions or charging for ~no shows within the month.

      That means customers who are not ADA certified, or who do not have a subscription service can be charged $5.00 for a round trip.

      It is currently $1.50 for seniors and for people with disabilities. Fare is $2.50 for everyone else.

      However, the MTA Chief of Staff says fare increases are being considered.

      It TMs going to be harder for some people to get a trip to the grocery store, school, or even doctor TMs appointments with the Mass Transportation Authority's Your Ride service.

      76-year-old Rafaela Barroso uses Your Ride in Genesee County to get to her dialysis treatments three times every week.

      It TMs very important. My life depends on it. I come here to get my blood cleaned. I am very dependent, said Barroso who uses Your Ride.

      But Barroso may have a harder time using Your Ride to get to her doctor's appointments.

      The MTA is projecting a 2.6 million dollar loss of local millage monies in 2012, leaving officials no choice but to reduce their budget by more than two million dollars.

      We only have so much money to provide this service, and that money is so constrained this year that we are doing all that we can do, said Ed Benning, MTA Chief of Staff.

      The Chief of Staff at MTA says economic conditions have caused bus ridership to jump 12%.

      On any given day Your Ride picks up about 2,500 people in Genesee County and that number is expected to rise.

      Even with Your Ride's popularity, growth is limited. In fact, funding cutbacks are causing about 140 casual rides to be denied every day.

      Maybe a trip to go to work and they work at a retail store, and every day the schedule may change, said Benning.

      Part of the problem is the number of ~no shows. TM 2,300 people every month call Your Ride and never show up.

      Individuals may decide when they get out of work that they'll get a ride home with someone else, and they are a no show, or individuals use us as a backup plan, said Benning.

      With fuel costs sky high, the MTA is considering charging people anyway or suspending service for 30 days.

      Officials are also talking about raising fare prices which hasn TMt been done since 2005. Barroso is worried about this.

      If they raise the money, what am I going to do? Cut other expenses, maybe not buy extra food, said Barroso.

      Cutbacks or not, the MTA says people with disabilities and seniors like Barraso are their top priority.

      The MTA is also using new scheduling software on their buses to increase efficiency by being able to add and drop trips easier.

      MTA officials say fixed bus routes will not be affected by the cutbacks.

      The MTA says they do not plan on asking for another millage.

      Are you willing to pay more for Your Ride? How much?

      Do you think ~no shows TM should be reprimanded?