The county's only public bus system will increase its adult fare by 25 cents to $1 today while its six routes will be streamlined into four to make up for reductions in government subsidies.
The state Public Service Commission unanimously approved the revisions last Wednesday, allowing the Columbia Association to make the changes to ColumBus, which it operates using county, state and federal subsidies.
The county's outgoing public transportation coordinator, Louis Pinkney, welcomed the changes saying they will reduce travel time and save money.
"The new service represents a vast improvement over theprogram previously operated by ColumBus, and in the face of declining federal and state mass transit support, the changes will also be more easily absorbed," he said.
Fares for all trips increase from 75cents to $1 for adults; 60 cents to 75 cents for senior citizens, the handicapped and children 6 to 11 years old.
Non-peak-hour fares for senior citizens and the handicapped will increase from 35 cents to 50 cents.
The communities losing bus service include all or parts of the Longfellow, Clary's Forest, Swansfield, Hobbit's Glen, Martin Road, Thunder Hill Road, Oakland Ridge, Cradlerock Way, Shaker Drive, Kindler Road, Rivers and
Kilimanjaro Road-Jeffers Hill areas.
Bus service continues to the county government complex and historic Ellicott City. Service to Chatham Mall, St. John's Plaza and Normandy Shopping Center on Route 40 is eliminated.
After state transportation department funding was capped last December for both the 1990 and 1991 fiscal years, the Columbia Association was forced to pay $240,000 in operating costs, which are supposed to be covered by government subsidies channeled through the county.
Operating four insteadof six buses will save about $225,000, while fare increases will cover the remainder of the expected $253,000 shortfall for fiscal year 1992, which begins today.
During a March 21 public hearing, Jacqueline A. Dewey, association vice president and Community Services director, told the county Public Transportation Board that she was convinced the new system would be better because areas that lost service were generating only one or two riders a day, while other areas that have higher ridership are better served with faster and more frequent service.
The four new routes will make 16 trips a day instead of the 10 made under the old system and will operate on loops that take 45minutes instead of an hour.
Printed schedules should be availableby the end of May.
Also beginning are "early bird" routes runningbetween 6:30 and 8 a.m. to Longfellow, Hobbit's Glen, Jeffers Hill and Clemens Crossing neighborhoods, prompted by riders' phone calls tothe association and testimony at a Feb. 7 Columbia Council hearing.
Also losing service is the St. John's Lane area, where some residents opposed the routing of the Ellicott City line added to the systemlast fall.
Residents had objected to the route because it went through their neighborhood on its way in and out of Dorsey's Search, where residents had lobbied for bus service.
The new Ellicott City route, because it only goes through Dorsey's Search one way, will bypass all but a short portion of Columbia Road in the St. John's area.
Within the next 12 months, the association also hopes to designate bus stops so riders would no longer have to flag buses down.
The Columbia Association, a non-profit recreational, social and service organization financed through fees and assessments on Columbia property, has run the ColumBus system since 1967. In 1981, the Columbia Council, which directs the association, adopted a policy that the association should divest itself of the bus system.
Since then, governmentsubsidies have increased but are still insufficient to run the system without Columbia Association administration.