One fare for all

Senior citizens will pay more starting later this month to ride the bus to the senior center, but trips to the grocery, doctor’s offices and other stops will cost less.

The changes are planned as part of an effort by JAUNT, the regional public transit provider, to streamline fares to make them less confusing for travelers.

The agency says the fare for a one-way trip to the Betty J. Queen Intergenerational Center will double to $2, while travel for senior citizens and people with disabilities will drop from $3 to $2.

The new fares are planned to go into effect on Aug. 26.

“Instead of having three types of fares, we’re using the most common one,” explained Brad Sheffield, JAUNT executive director. “Not understanding the fares is one of the things that holds people back from using the system.”

Riders of all ages will pay the same $2 fare for weekday travel within the county, with the elimination of the $4 charge for the general public.

“No one was using the general public fare, and there was a blending going on between the trips to the senior center and other places,” Sheffield said. “The $2 turned out to be the sweet spot.”

Travelers on JAUNT’s bus to Charlottesville, which operates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, will also see a unified fare. Everyone will pay $4, instead of a $5 fare for the general public and a dollar discount for seniors.

The agency was careful to alter fares in a way that does not result in a revenue loss, he said.

JAUNT organized a public meeting at the Betty Queen Center on July 30 to hear feedback from senior citizens about the proposed changes. Sheffield said he heard a positive reaction from Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA) staff when he met with them last month. JABA contributes to the cost of some trips on JAUNT, he said, such as field trips for seniors and some shopping trips.

Crystal Donovan, who manages the senior center programs for JABA, could not be reached for comment.

“The main thing was to make sure no passenger feels negatively impacted,” Sheffield said.