The Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) voted recently 4-2 to approve proposed fare changes. The six voting members of the board include two representatives from the city of Palmdale, two representatives from the city of Lancaster, and two representing the County of Los Angeles. Voting against the motion were AVTA chairman and city of Lancaster Vice Mayor Marvin Crist, as well as Lancaster councilwoman Angela Underwood-Jacobs.
The resulting fare increase, set to go into effect on June 29, will eliminate free rides for senior citizens throughout the Antelope Valley. The fee restructure will reportedly negatively impact the monthly budgets of seniors who depend on AVTA transportation to manage their ongoing local travel needs.
According to the AVTA’s “Proposed Fare Structure Recommendations” staff report, regarding the Local Transit Reduced Fare, the recommendation was to implement a fare of $0.75, in lieu of current no-cost fares. Senior citizens who now ride at no cost may soon face up to a $300-per-year impact to their budgets.
The fare increase is not popular at Lancaster City Hall.
“The city of Lancaster will not simply stand by and let the AVTA Board take away this extremely important lifeline of services from our senior citizens throughout the Antelope Valley,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “We must step in to protect these valued citizens from fare increases which will have a huge impact on their already limited fixed incomes.”
With Lancaster providing the lone two dissenting votes in opposition to the fare increase for seniors, the city council has rallied behind Crist in a proposal he will bring before the AVTA Board. Crist said he will appeal to his fellow AVTA Board members to allow each jurisdiction (Lancaster, Palmdale and the County) to eliminate the impact to the group of citizens whom, he stressed, “…have given so much to this country and our community.”