EVANSVILLE, INDIANA — The sound of engines rumbling permeated by doors squeaking open and shut echo through the crowded terminal at the METS bus transfer station in downtown Evansville – just another day at the busy transportation center.
“I’ve been riding METS now for 25 years. I don’t have no drivers license,” rider Larry McGuire said as he waited for his bus.
For McGuire and others, the METS bus system is their main way of getting around town.
It’s very convenient for me,” he said. “I mean there are a lot of good drivers during METS and a lot I know real well because I’ve been riding the bus so long.”
“The bus drivers are amazing,” Jessica Gillenwater, a rider, said. “They’re very consistent. They’re very on-time. They’re very nice.”
Many riders have been used to paying their fare and hopping on the bus. While the routine may not be changing, the fare may be – for the first time since 1999.
“If you would factor in the rate of inflation, then the base fare should be $1.40 for a ride,” Department of Transportation and Services Executive Director Todd Robertson said.
Right now, the base bus fare costs $1 and for riders changing routes, they have one free transfer. But under a new proposal, each bus fare will cost 75 cents, with transfers eliminated – meaning if riders need to change routes, they will have to pay the 75 cent fare again.
“There’s been some discrepencies about the transfers for years and what have you, and we hope this will turn out a win-win for both the customers as well as METS,” Robertson said.
“I understand the lower price for 75 cents, but to transfer at that rate too, I don’t understand why we couldn’t just leave it alone,” Gillenwater said.
For Gillenwater, she said this new fare could lead her to look for other options.
“Gas is $2 a gallon,” she said. “I make give those couple of dollars to a person going to work or something like that. I might find someone dependable to catch a ride with.”
But Robertson said this new fare isn’t to hurt the riders, rather it’s a way to help increase efficiency and to fund other services, like a Sunday operation.
“We were also looking for ways – how can we find money to help offset Sunday services or help pay for Sunday services?” Robertson said.
He said while it is understandable that no one wants to pay more, he hopes riders understand its necessary to keep serving the community.
The proposal will now be going before the Board of Public Works, which will meet on August 11 to discuss the proposal.
METS is offering a free bus service Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. as a way to encourage people to check out what METS has to offer.
METS is also offering an app – a Bus Locator. It can be downloaded here: https://mets.doublemap.com/map