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Metro board approves fare hikes

(KWMU photo)

By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The board overseeing St. Louis's mass transit system has approved a series of fare hikes, taking the first step to address a $50 million budget deficit.

Bus fares will increase to $2 and MetroLink will cost $2.25 starting January first. Another 25-cent increase will take effect in July 2010. Metro officials said the two-step process would keep riders with the system by keeping mass transit competitive cost-wise with driving.

The fare hikes still leave a $36 million hole that will have to be closed with service cuts. The Metro board will vote in December on a plan that could eliminate most bus routes outside the 270 loop.

Ken McKoy is with a group of congregations that advocates on behalf of low-income residents. Listening to the presentation, he says, was like sitting through a root canal.

"If you look at it from a business perspective, you don't go to a restaurant and people tell you that we're going to give you small portions and charge you more money," he said. "It's just, sure going to rub everyone the wrong way, but it's going to be devastating for members of our congregations."

According to Metro, the fare increases and service cuts are necessary because county voters rejected Proposition M - a sales tax increase that would have generated 80 million dollars a year.