When asked to give the county’s bus transit service a budget increase to pay for higher driver wages, a Louisa County Board of Supervisors member requested that the agency consider raising passenger fares to cover the cost.
At their Feb. 20 work session on the county’s fiscal year 2019 budget, supervisors gave special attention to outside groups that requested significant budget hikes. The Charlottesville-based JAUNT bus service was among them with a $277,989 request, which is $41,000 more than the board allocated last year.
The money is needed mainly to give drivers a raise from $14.89 per hour to $16.45, according to Brad Sheffield, JAUNT executive director. The pay hike will help reduce staff turnover, he said.
JAUNT asked for $213,000 during the same budget discussion a year ago. But then the board voted to fund an additional $23,000 to enable the buses to return to service on Mondays.
“We have seen a significant increase in ridership from adding Monday back,” Sheffield said. “More people are using the bus to get to jobs in the county.”
Board Vice-Chairman Toni Williams (Jackson district) challenged Sheffield to find a way to raise fares, which Sheffield said have not increased since he came to work at JAUNT in 2011.