Seniors to see 50-cent CATARide fare increase Aug. 1

Scott Carter, who lives in Addison Court in State College, said Tuesday that every CATARide driver has been courteous to him since he became eligible for the curb-to-curb service for seniors and the disabled.

“They’ve always been willing to help us,” he said of himself and his wife. “It’s opened a lot of things we weren’t able to do before.”

Carter joined about a half-dozen others interested in the Centre Area Transportation Authority service during Tuesday’s biannual public input meeting. The biggest news was that the senior citizen fare will increase from $2.50 to $3 as of Aug. 1.

The change completes a full, $1, increase; senior fare increased to $2.50 last summer. Fare for the general public will increase from $16.65 to $20. Sherry Snyder, director of operations, said the change makes equal the fare for seniors and the disabled. The latter already is $3.

“At this point, we certainly have every intention of keeping them on par,” she said. “I see no immediate need for us to visit another increase in the next year.”

Snyder said that when CATA reaches the end of its contract with Ride Right LLC, of Lake St. Louis, Mo., the authority would consider the cost to operate the service after it seeks a new round of proposals. She said that process probably would start in a year.

Ride Right took over CATARide operations last April, with a contract through June 30, 2014, with two optional renewals of one year each. The phone number to schedule a ride is 238-6100.

Andy Burke, general manager for Ride Right, said from his Research Drive office there was a transition period, but that it’s going “great.” He said one passenger recently brought cupcakes to drivers and staff.

“In the new year, a lot of people were happier,” he said.

Josie Smith, of the Sight-Loss Support Group of Central PA, expressed concern about the fare increase, and said she hopes there won’t be another increase anytime soon, which could limit people’s ability to use the service.

“We’ll do the best we can,” Snyder said.

Charlene Miller, a CATARide dispatcher who also uses the service, praised the ride program, but said she doesn’t use it often because she lives in Bellefonte and it’s tough to schedule rides for the times she requires.

“We hope to make that easier somewhere down the line,” said paratransit Coordinator Dina Ruggiero.

Snyder added that ridership in Bellefonte “just isn’t there” to support more service at this time. CATARide operates up to three-quarters of a mile from CATA’s current fixed bus routes.

“The more ridership there is on a fixed route, the more backing we have to do more than what’s there,” she said.

Burke also reviewed some CATARide policies Tuesday. Riders must schedule pickups from one to 14 days in advance, drivers have a 15-minute window before and after the scheduled pickup, and drivers can make one trip to riders’ doors to help carry in groceries.

For more information, those interested in CATARide can contact Burke at 238-6120 and CATARide customer service at 238-2282, ext. 120.