Vista Transit is going FARE-FREE March 1st in Sierra Vista
Adam Curtis, Public Information Officer with the City of Sierra Vista, was on the "First Watch" radio program with Sheriff Mark Dannels to discuss a new pilot program for Sierra Vista. Vista Transit buses will be fare-free.
Adam: Vista transit, our local bus system, will be going fare-free starting March 1st. This is a pilot program that will continue for six months through August 31st. At that point, we're going to reevaluate it and determine if we will continue or explore something else. For the interim, we're going to prorate monthly passes. If you buy a monthly pass today, you're only paying until the end of the month because, after that, it will be free.
Why is the City of Sierra Vista trying this approach?
Adam: It's kind of multifaceted. Many agencies and transit systems looked at this during COVID because you didn't want to exchange money because there was so much concern about contact and transmission. That sparked us to look at cashless systems too, and it turns out the cashless systems are very expensive and dramatically exceed what we get in fair revenue. It's actually kind of a wash when you calculate the staff time, merchant fees, equipment maintenance, and other stuff that goes into collecting the fares. We actually get more payoff through boosting our ridership because the transit system is largely funded through federal grants; the more riders we have, the more money we get through those grants. We hope this boost rides ridership a little bit.
There are also job opportunities with Vista Transit.
Adam: We're also really short-staffed at the transit system. If you're someone with a CDL license and want to be a bus driver, Oh my goodness, we could use you. It's an area that nationwide is actually really tough to staff right now. If you're a bus driver looking for a job, we're definitely hiring right now. If there are folks like that in our community that are looking for a part-time job or full-time job, we are looking for you.