An official from the Lawrence Transit System says the costs of its operations have increased, as gas tops more than three dollars a gallon. The fleet of T buses require thousands of dollars in fuel each week. This costly expense could affect service.
“As gas prices, diesel prices continue to go up, more people may end up riding the bus,” Robert Nugent said, who works as public transit administrator. “If more people ride the bus, then it overloads our buses...So we’re caught in this catch-22 of when people expect us to be there to help ease their pain in the cost of fuel. We’re also feeling that pain.”
Nugent says Lawrence taxpayers will not pick up the extra expense for fuel. He expects local tax referendum dollars as well as state and federal funds to keep the T buses afloat. If prices continue to climb, Nugent may have to alter routes or increase bus fares as a last result to offset costs.
“Fare increases don’t necessarily reward you with a lot more dollars because once you increase a fare, that usually deters people from riding,” Nugent said. “If you’re more radical and double your fares, you’re going to lose a whole lot of ridership. So the extra money that you think you’re gaining, you’ll probably lose because you lost ridership in that process.”
Nugent, however, does ask people to try out public transit if fuel costs get too high. He also says that the T will continue operating efficiently for the 55,000 people who ride the bus each month.