A new company takes over, and the city decides to charge fares to ride any bus

by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - While a Sandy Area Metro (SAM) bus stops at the Sandy Transit Center, the bus driver gives route and time information to a potential rider. The transit system, which has been almost entirely fareless for more than 10 years, on Oct. 1 will begin charging $1 for most one-way trips.The city of Sandy’s transit services will begin charging fees to ride anywhere in, around or away from Sandy. The fares will begin Tuesday, Oct. 1.

At a recent council meeting, the City Council also approved a proposed contract with a new transit company.

End of Fareless SAM

Generally, fares are $1 for each one-way trip, but among the exceptions are seniors and disabled, who will pay half-fare. The ED Dial-A-Ride fare for a one-way out-of-area trip will be $2.

As often is the case, buying in quantity will have the effect of reducing the per-trip cost. A package of 24 one-way passes will be $20, while a monthly pass will be $30 and an annual pass will cost $300.

City officials believe riders are ready to pay a fare, after about 12 years of free rides. Surveys have been conducted with riders; fares have become part of the Transit Master Plan; the topic was part of a City Council workshop; and the Transit Advisory Committee recommended the move.

Fares are needed soon because of the discontinuance of several grant programs that have been helping to fund costs associated with operating the buses.

The council approved the resolution unanimously last week, naming Oct. 1 as the first day of fare collection.

For information, call 503-489-0925.

New transit company

Each member of a committee of people with transit experience and knowledge recommended that the city of Sandy choose the transit company with the highest bid, which was Ro-Joy Services

Community Services Director Nancy Enabnit defended that choice, noting the expertise of committee members and the fact the low bidder (MV Transportation) has a history of initially bidding low to get a contract and then making a significant hike at the first opportunity.

Councilor Carl Exner admitted he normally is attracted to the lowest cost bid, but did not want to take chances with a company with a history of raising prices.

The council unanimously approved signing a contract for two years of transit services with Ro-Joy Services, a recently-formed company that spun off the current transit provider.

Ro-Joy’s owner, Joyce LeDoux, has been operations supervisor for the current company since 2003, and has many more prior years in the transit business.

The price of two years of transit services, as bid by Ro-Joy, is $1,289,616, and an option for an additional three years is included.

The company not receiving the committee’s OK was MV Transportation of Dallas, Texas.

Exner and Mayor Bill King were in favor of Ro-Joy because it is local, and that is one of the council goals — to hire local companies whenever possible.

“Here’s an opportunity to (meet our goal),” King said, “and maintain the status quo with the high quality of service that we get now.”

Enabnit said there are a lot of Ro-Joy drivers who are familiar to Sandy riders and have been driving locally for a long time.

“We want to encourage as much consistency in drivers and longevity as we can,” she told the council, “because that’s one of the earmarks of the system. People recognize the drivers.”

For more information, call 503-489-0925.

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