La Crosse MTU to charge bus fare again in May

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)- It’s a sign the normalcy, but it comes at a cost.  La Crosse’s MTU will start charging bus fare again on May 3rd.  

 The hustle and bustle at La Crosse’s Grand River Station stops just long enough for passengers like Chelsie Duryea to catch a ride.I take the bus everyday Monday through Saturday. It’s what pay my bills. I don’t have a vehicle so it’s what gets me to and from work.”, says Duryea.

The MTU waived fares at the onset of the pandemic to limit driver and passenger interaction and to give riders a bit of a break. “We knew it was a trying time for people and they were out of work.”, says La Crosse MTU Director Adam Lorentz But free fares are coming to an end May 3rd. “We are the last in the state of Wisconsin. We held out at long as we could.”, says Lorentz.  “Our revenue is down over $500,000 this year.”, says Lorentz. 

La Crosse received a little more than 6-million dollars in federal CARES act money; more than enough to offset revenue loss for this year and pay for COVID-related safety items like driver barriers and a touchless pay system. But; Lorentz doesn’t expect ridership to pick up to pre-pandemic levels for months if not years.  He says the city needs its fare money to make ends meet. “It comes down to budgeting for the future. We looked at the numbers and we have to make sure that were going to be able to use this for the next two to three years. That revenue has to start coming back in.”, says Lorentz.

Lorenz is hopeful ridership will rise, but says your bus fare won’t. La Crosse hasn’t raised its rates in a decade. A deal Duryea appreciate now that it’s time for riders to help pick up the tab. “It is still affordable.”, says Duryea.

The decrease in ridership and revenue did not affect any other city budget. Fare money goes right back into MTU service budget. 

If you pay cash, the fare of someone 18 and older is just $1.50.