February 15, 2012
There's no free lunch, and also no free ride. Monterey-Salinas Transit announced Wednesday that it plans to drop half-price fares on Sundays and holidays.
MST introduced the discounted fares in April of last year as a promotional effort to increase ridership during slow times, and saw a 25-percent increase, indicating the program was successful. But it didn't fill enough empty seats, so Feb. 20, MST will discontinue the deal.
"The good news is that yes, we were able to encourage people to use transit on Sundays when we reduced the price. The downside is, we weren’t able to encourage them enough to make us break even," says Hunter Harvath, MST's assistant general manager of finance and administration.
Seniors over 65, children 18 and under, individuals with disabilities, Medicare cardholders, and active duty military still qualify for the half-price fare.
Harvath says there's a chance reduced fares will come back in the future, depending on how a tumultuous budget environment in Sacramento and Washington shakes out. "We proved that you can change transit demand based on price," he adds.