Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

North County Transit Hikes Fares For Special Shuttle Service

A North County Transit District LIFT shuttle, April 2017.
NCTD
A North County Transit District LIFT shuttle, April 2017.
North County Transit Hikes Fares For Special Shuttle Service
Some passengers with disabilities who use North County Transit shuttles may find it takes a bigger bite out of their budget in coming months.

Some passengers with disabilities who use North County Transit shuttles may find it takes a bigger bite out of their budget in coming months.

While the number of people who use public transit has fallen, ridership of North County Transit’s paratransit service, known as LIFT, has grown by more than 50 percent in the last five years.

NCTD has contracted with a new company, MV Transportation, to take over the LIFT service this summer, and fares for longer trips are going up.

The region’s comprehensive fare ordinance, adopted by the San Diego Association of Governments in 2014, allows agencies to charge no more than double the standard bus fare for an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act ) paratransit service. In this case, NCTD’s bus fares are $1.75 and the one-way fare for a ride with LIFT is $3.50.

Until now, riders who qualified would pay a maximum of $3.50 for a ride. But starting later this year, a one-way ticket could cost as much as $10.50. That is because although the shuttle will take the rider all the way to their destination without having to transfer to another shuttle, the journey would have required two transfers on a regular bus.

Denise Bravell with the National Federation of the Blind said some people may no longer be able to afford the rides.

“It could be anything from doctor’s appointments, clinics, dialysis, adult day care centers,” she said. “People who are going to college… I myself go to the Braille Institute.”

Damon Blythe, deputy chief of Transit Operations Planning at NCTD, said the service will now offer benefits such as 24 hour on-line reservations, instead of phone appointments. Riders will also be able to track when their ride is coming more easily, have a longer pick-up window and easier ways to pay.

“But all of that is going to be a moot point,” Bravell said, “if we can’t afford to ride.”

Blythe said 44 percent of riders get where they need to go on one bus, so many LIFT riders will see no change in fares. He said those who cannot afford the increase will be offered training in how to ride the regular bus or the train.

The Metropolitan Transit Service provides paratransit service in the rest of San Diego County for $4.50 a ride. Spokesman Rob Schupp said no change in fares is planned at this time.