The Hialeah City Council approved an increase in the city’s bus fare after keeping them frozen for more than two years.
Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernández said on Wednesday that the new cost of a bus ticket will be $2.25. The measure was approved unanimously at a council meeting Tuesday evening.
The cost of a bus ticket in Hialeah had been kept at $2 per passenger since January 2011.
“It’s a difficult decision, but I believe it’s important in order to maintain bus service in our city,” Hernández said. “We would like to keep all expenses under control, but the cost of fuel and maintenance are not in our hands.”
Hernández said the decision also fell within the increase of $0.25 that the Miami-Dade County Commission approved in October, in effect now in all county transportation services.
Jorge de la Nuez, director of the Hialeah Transportation Department, said that so far this year the city bus service has issued 434,000 tickets, 365,000 of which covered free service for people over 65 carrying a Golden Pass. In other words, according to public records, 84 percent of users do not pay for their use of city buses.
Aura Báez, 72, who carries a free pass, said she expected the increase in the tariff would improve the quality of service.
“Sometimes you have to wait a long time,” Báez said while she waited for a bus on 49th Street. “Let’s hope this will help buses to come more often.”
“Twenty years ago, the increases were of a few cents and people complained,” she added. “Now they don’t say anything.”
There are two transportation routes in Hialeah: Flamingo and Marlins. The first one runs from LeJeune Road, 49th Street and Okeechobee Road; the second one connects the east area close to City Hall to 80th Street west.
Sunday service was suspended in 2012 due to budget cuts.
The council chairwoman, Isis García-Martínez, said the increase in Hialeah is a necessary measure, and she pointed out that it’s dictated by the county fee.
“Unfortunately, an increase had to be approved, but it was necessary to maintain the bus service,” García-Martínez said.
A county spokesperson said that in 2008 the county commission established that fees would be increased every three years to conform to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
However, due to the economic crisis that has shaken the country, the implementation of the tariff increase originally scheduled for 2011 was postponed two years.
De la Nuez said that Hialeah has a fleet of 13 city buses, eight of which were acquired with federal funds in 2011; two in 2009, one in 2007 and two in 2002.
“It’s difficult to keep this fleet operating,” De la Nuez said. “Understand that the three permanent older buses break down and that we plan in the future to participate in subsidy programs to obtain funds to buy more buses.”