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Will RTA raise fares, eliminate routes after revenue loss?

$4.5M loss of sales tax revenues squeezes transit system

A pair of public meetings Tuesday will allow the public to chime in on steps the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority will take next year to absorb a $4.5 million loss of Medicaid managed care sales tax.

Higher fares, fewer weekend services and the elimination of some routes are possible ways to make up for the lost revenue, according to the agency.

Potential cuts to meet the expected shortfall target the elimination of all current bus service to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Brookville and its Payless Shoesource Eastern Distribution Center, and the only service to New Lebanon. Route 61 to the Dayton Mall also faces elimination, but the area would continue to be served by other buses.

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“Nothing is set in stone,” RTA spokeswoman Jessica Olson said. “We want to make sure that our riders have a chance to let us know what they would like to see and share any ideas they might have to help us with our budget as well as preserve as many services as possible.”

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The first meeting begins at 10 a.m. while another is scheduled at 6 p.m. Both will be in the second-floor multipurpose room at Wright Stop Plaza, 4 S. Main St. in Dayton.

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Among the considerations to meet the shortage — about 6.2 percent of RTA’s annual revenue — is a hike in fares from $1.75 to $2. Although an across-the-board standard fare increase would not make up for the loss, Olson said some routes could potentially be preserved. Promotional fares that discourage the use of cash, which jams fare boxes leading to many road calls and stalled buses, are also being examined.

Any changes to fares or routes would take effect no earlier than February, according to the RTA, which currently maintains 3,300 stops on 35 routes throughout Montgomery County and parts of Greene County.

Transit authorities as well as county governments — including Montgomery County which is losing $9 million in revenue — were tripped up by the federal change preventing the sales tax disbursement.

RELATED: $9M shortfall: Montgomery County faces program cuts, employee wage reductions

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