"Tempe Cesspool for the Arts"

aka "Tempe Center for the Arts"

Tempe wastes millions on free Orbit bus rides!

  50 cents for a $5 bus ride??? - "the Orbit, may start charging a 50-cent fee next January"

Last time I read about the Orbit bus line in Tempe it cost $5 per ride to provide services which the city of Tempe gives away for free.

But don't worry Tempe will continue to waste our tax dollars on these silly free bus rides. Even if they charge 50 cents for each ride they will still be losing $4.50 every time a passenger rides the bus.


Orbit buses get bigger, possible fee addition

By Michelle Peirano February 14, 2012 at 9:29 pm Print This Post Print This Post

The City of Tempe Transportation Commission is discussing the possible move to new 30-foot Orbit buses and the financial leverage needed to do so. (Photo by Jessie Wardarski)

Tempe’s free shuttle service, the Orbit, may start charging a 50-cent fee next January, accompanying a possible replacement of the aging buses, Tempe officials said.

Replacing the buses and implementing a fare could help minimize Tempe Transportation’s $3 million budget deficit, said Greg Jordan, deputy public works director of Tempe Transportation.

The department received $500,000 to buy a 30-foot, fuel-efficient bus this fall. If the bus fits with Tempe’s neighborhoods and residents, it would replace the 39 smaller buses currently used by the program, Jordan said.

Tempe started the Orbit program in 2007, purchasing small, neighborhood-friendly buses, but the fleet is approaching the end of its lifespan. The city plans to auction off the aging buses within a year.

The commission wants to replace the fleet with buses that use natural gas, incorporate a fare collection system, are handicap-friendly and will be accepted in Tempe’s neighborhoods, said Jason Hartong, senior transit operations coordinator.

“There is not one single vehicle in the market that satisfies all those things,” Hartong said.

The 30-foot bus seats 50 passengers and meets most of the requirements. It runs on natural gas, has an electric hybrid engine and can hold a Valley Metro farebox.

The commission’s greatest worry about the 30-foot bus is that it might impose on Tempe’s neighborhood setting, Hartong said.

Tempe has done a lot of restructuring of its transit services to cut costs from the budget and raise revenues, but is doing its best to not impact riders, Jordan said.

Tempe Transportation tracked 12 million riders per year and has not seen a decrease since the restructuring, he said.

The increased Valley Metro fares, part of a project to unify local and regional transit, could be approved Thursday, Jordan said.

If approved, the bus consolidation and fare increase will not go into effect until 2014, but could eventually help reduce Tempe Transportation’s budget deficit, Jordan said.

U-Passes would cover any potential Orbit fare, said Shana Ellis, chair of Tempe’s Council Transportation Committee.

Urban planning junior Jaime Paniagua doubts Orbit’s success if a fare is added to the service.

“(Orbit fare) is going to cause a lot of problems,” Paniagua said. “I know a lot of people who take it and take it because it’s free.”

Hartong said Tempe Transportation needs to have an operating budget that matches its revenues.

“There’s a lot of things happening at once,” Hartong said. “We don’t know how fare will affect ridership.”

Reach the reporter at Michelle.Peirano@asu.edu.


Tempe Center for the Arts

Tempe Cesspool for the Arts