On September 27, Centro proposed a new transit pass that would offer unlimited rides for seven consecutive calendar days. These new MAX passes would cost $20 ($10 reduced fare), equivalent to the cost of paying the full cash fare two times each day of a five-day work week.
Centro had sold 7-day unlimited passes for $15 prior to 2015. The transit agency stopped offering unlimited passes in order to save enough money to maintain its late-night and Sunday service during a budget crisis in the Spring of 2015. Since that time, the only way for people to get a deal on their fare has been to buy 10-ride passes for $18, 20-ride passes for $36, or 30-ride passes for $54. Centro also sells unlimited single day passes for $5.
The new MAX passes are definitely a good thing. For anyone who takes the bus at least 12 times a week, the $20 MAX passes will be cheaper than the cheapest option currently available–the multi-ride passes that price out to $1.80 a trip.
Unlimited passes like these also remove the stress of choosing which trips to make in any given week. An unexpected trip to the doctor won’t take away the fare that you’d intended to use to get to the grocery store. With unlimited rides, each extra trip you take makes the pass a better deal.
This benefits Centro as well, because part of their funding from the State is determined by the number of rides they provide. If these passes allow people to afford more bus rides, then Centro will receive more State funding automatically.
Although this is all good news, the MAX pass still won’t make transit as affordable in Syracuse as it is in Rochester or Albany.
RTS and CDTA provide Rochester and Albany with more extensive service than Syracuse gets from Centro, and they do it while charging their riders less money. Syracuse should be getting better transit service for the price its people are paying. NFTA in Buffalo charges the same $2 cash fare as Centro, and they’ve got a subway to show for it.
An unlimited monthly pass would go a long way towards making the bus more affordable in Syracuse. Before that 2015 budget crisis, Centro had offered monthly passes for $60. If they reintroduce an unlimited monthly pass for something like $65 or $70, that would put a little more money in people’s pockets, and it would encourage more people to ride the bus. Hopefully, this weekly MAX pass is the first step towards bringing the monthly passes back.
Centro is hosting an information session from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm on Wednesday October 18 at OCPL’s Central Library. At 5:30 pm they’ll begin a public hearing. Show up, find out all the details, and let them know what you need out of your transit system.