Macon Transit Authority halts planned bus fare hike – for now


Laura Corley | The Macon Newsroom

This Macon Transit Authority bus shelter on College Street is among 6 downtown shelters that will feature art installations set to be unveiled May 5, 2023.

A bus fare hike that was set to take effect this summer is off the table – at least for the next year.

The Macon Transit Authority board voted Tuesday evening to nix the increase to fares it approved in February. Regular fare was set to be bumped up for the first time in 15 years July 1 from $1.25 to $1.75. The cost of a paratransit ride would have gone up from $2.50 to $3.50.

Macon-Bibb County Commissioners voted unanimously last week to pay the transit authority up to $375,000 in hopes it would help the authority stave off the fare increase for at least one more year. That amount is about $14,000 less than revenue the transit authority anticipated after one year of the fare increase in effect.

The county’s money is part of the $75.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds it received from the federal government meant to help address negative impacts of the pandemic.

Macon Transit Authority President and CEO Craig Ross said Mayor Lester Miller called  March 8 and asked how Ross felt about the county approving some of the federal money to cover a year of the fare increase.

“I told him I have no problem with that, I don’t care where it comes from,” Ross said.

The transit authority will bill the county on a monthly basis based on the authority’s ridership report, Ross said. If the authority doesn’t use all the money, the county will keep the remainder.

Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Elaine Lucas, a vocal critic of the authority and its planned fare increase, implored the authority board at recent meetings to reconsider a change she said would harm some of the county’s most financially vulnerable residents.

“I wanted to let you know there was a unanimous vote of the Macon-Bibb County Commission because they shared these concerns,” Lucas said at the authority board meeting Tuesday. “It seems you’ve grabbed the bull by the horn and went to work.”

Bus fares hikes take effect and last in perpetuity, so it is possible the authority board could vote next year to increase the bus fare.

In other business, the transit authority is set to unveil six downtown bus shelters containing public art installations next month. The artistic bus shelters result from the Community Foundation of Central Georgia’s Downtown Challenge 2.0 grant program funded by the Knight Foundation and Peyton Anderson Foundation.

The unveiling is set for May 5 at a bus shelter in the 900 block of College Street, between the bridge over the railroad tracks and the roundabout.

To contact Civic Journalism Fellow Laura Corley, call 478-301-5777 or email [email protected].