Rawlings-Blake’s administration released a report showing the free bus service is currently operating at an $11.6 million in debt. In 10 years, that hole could balloon to more than $70 million.
That information indicates recent calls from the City Council to consider charging a $1 fee for the service weren’t out of the blue. But the free ride is part of what makes the bus so popular, so it’s not necessarily seen as the best option.
“My goal: savings through efficiency—without increasing taxes or adding a fee,” the mayor said. Charging a fee, she said, “could do more harm than good.”
The service attracts about 13,000 riders daily, but the cost to operate the eco-friendly buses hasn’t kept up. It’s funded by the city’s parking tax, as well as ads sold on the side of the buses. The City’s general fund has been forced to pick up more and more of the funding as operating costs have picked up.
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