Back-Seat Driver

Sunday bike race means downtown street closures

Regional Transit, which runs the light-rail system and buses, is considering a fare increase, possibly next year. It’s also planning a fare card that could allow charging for distance traveled instead of a flat rate. Details will be discussed Monday.
Regional Transit, which runs the light-rail system and buses, is considering a fare increase, possibly next year. It’s also planning a fare card that could allow charging for distance traveled instead of a flat rate. Details will be discussed Monday. hamezcua@sacbee.com

If you’re taking mom to brunch downtown Sunday, beware the peloton.

Some 144 professional cyclists will be swarming like angry bees around Capitol Park and midtown streets in a series of loops Sunday on Day One of the seven-day Tour of California.

Downtown and midtown streets will be closed all day Sunday. They include:

▪ 18th Street (P Street to L Street), 11th Street (N Street to O Street), and 12th Street (N Street to O Street),

▪ 13th Street (N Street to P Street), 15th Street (K Street to P Street), and Ninth Street (L Street to N Street),

▪ N Street (Ninth Street to 18th Street), and L Street (19th Street to Ninth Street).

Other closures include River Road in Yolo County through Clarksburg, Courtland and Walnut Grove. Mace Boulevard in Davis and Pole Line Road between Davis and Woodland will be closed, as will part of West Capitol Avenue in West Sacramento.

Part of 10th Street near the Capitol will be closed on Friday, and L Street alongside the Capitol will be closed Saturday.

For race details, go to www.amgentourofcalifornia.com

Bus fares up?

Sacramento Regional Transit on Monday will tackle a touchy subject: fare changes.

The agency is, as usual, betwixt and between. Advocates for the poor say RT service is inadequate and prices too high. They are pushing for RT to create sliding fares based on income. Meanwhile, downtown businesses want RT to clean up light-rail trains and improve security for “choice” riders (car owners) who may want to give the rails a try when the downtown arena opens.

And, for the moment, the RT budget is slightly in the red.

RT officials say they do not plan to change fares quite yet. The agency will balance its budget with internal cuts. “We want to make sure the quality of our service is good before we even consider changing fares,” said board chairman Jay Schenirer, a Sacramento city councilman.

The agency has hired a consultant with a reputation for finding inventive ways for bus agencies to save millions of dollars. He’ll offer suggestions this summer.

Still, fare changes are likely on their way, possibly next year.

At $2.50 currently per ride for a basic ticket, the agency already is high-priced. But with all the discounts the agency offers, the average price per ride is really $1.11, according to an RT analysis. Agency officials would like to nudge that number higher.

If RT goes to $2.75 or $3, the agency will make more money, but ridership numbers will drop. That means RT’s often-troubled bottom line would be healthier, but more of low-income or poor riders would resort to walking, searching for private rides or remaining stuck at home.

Responding to rider demand, the agency is looking at bringing back bus transfer tickets. That way, riders who take two buses home don’t have to pay two fares. The agency could charge a $1 mini-fare for transfers, though.

RT is less likely to go to income-based sliding fares, which are being pushed by Wellspring Women’s Center in Oak Park. “It’s not our charge to be a social service,” said RT General Manager Mike Wiley. “Our mission is to provide transit service to as many people as we can with the resources we have.”

The agency plans next year to finally introduce an electronic fare card called a Connect Card, which could free RT up to charge by distance and offer reduced fares for short-distance rides. But it also may help the agency simplify its complex fare system. If you want an inside look at the options, here is the staff report for Monday’s meeting: http://bit.ly/1H2j99r.

Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059.

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