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MTA bus fare will increase to $2 next week; workers' health costs cited

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 23. 2014 10:45PM

MANCHESTER — A single-ticket ride on Manchester Transit Authority buses will go up 50 cents to $2 next week, the first fare increase in five years, the MTA director said.

Director Mike Whitten said increases in health insurance and workers compensation are the biggest reasons the MTA board approved the fare increases last month. He said the approvals followed a public hearing, when only a few passengers opposed the increase.

“The overwhelming concensus was the fare increase was preferable to service cuts,” he said.

Nearly every fare goes up. Seniors and disabled will pay $1, up from 75 cents. An adult weekly pass goes from $18 to $20. The monthly fare for high-school students goes from $40 to $45.

Whitten said the last fare increase was in 2009. Before then, fares increased three times in six years.

“What we’re trying to do is raise them less often and in bigger increments,” Whitten said.

In one change, the Step Saver van will now pick up elderly and disabled who only live three-quarters of a mile or closer to a bus route. He said the change should affect few of the approximately 100 customers who use Step Saver.

He said the fear is that Medicaid managed care companies will tell patients to take a Step Saver van rather than provide transportation to doctor appointments, something Medicaid has historically paid for.

“We’re trying to prevent what’s called ride dumping,” Whitten said.He said health care premiums are up nearly 8 percent, and worker compensation premiums are up almost 30 percent.

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