FREDERICK, MD - Commissioners in Frederick County voted this afternoon to increase the TransIT-plus rates by a smaller amount. The elderly and disabled use the service.
A woman with cerebral palsy sat in front of the room and challenged Commissioner Paul Smith to spend a day in a wheelchair. People like her with disabilities packed the room for the commissioners' meeting on whether to raise fare rates.
"People that use wheelchairs need this service because obviously most cars are not accessible," said Jamey George, executive director of the Frederick Freedom Center.
Joan Bacashihua told commissioners she would not have survived her cancer without the service.
"I myself am disabled and have depending on that system even for chemotherapy, so I know it's imperative, or for some people it is life-giving source for those that have to use the TransIT-plus system," Bacashihua said.
Commissioners unanimously voted to increase TransIT-plus fares by 50 cents. The original proposal would have doubled the rate, but Commissioner Smith made a motion for a smaller increase.
"The service needs to be there. We are a community that is growing, and when you're growing with jobs and people's needs, now is not the time to cut the service," said Smith, (R) - vice president of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners.
"Most of the people who use TransIT-plus, they're on a fixed income, so 50 cents or a dollar, that really makes a difference to them," said Billy Shreve, (R) - Frederick County commissioner.
People who use TransIT-plus aren't completely out of the dark. Commissioners will vote on whether to hire two full-time drivers in a couple of weeks. Some services could be cut without those drivers.
Commissioners David Gray (R) and Smith voted to hire drivers, but commissioners Kirby Delauter (R) and Shreve were opposed.
"I don't make decisions on the spot," Shreve said. "I think that's a rookie mistake. Anyone who makes a quick decision about a long-term process is foolish."
Smith took the woman who challenged him to spend a day in a wheelchair up on her offer and will spend a day in her shoes sometime in the next few weeks.
Commissioners also increases the fares for the general public on Transit. One-way cash fares will go from $1.10 to $1.25 on July 30. They'll increase to $1.50 in July 2014.