Since 1973, Golden Empire Transit (GET) has provided transit services for the Bakersfield area. This year, GET realized that it had to change its fares and services to maintain its quality and maintain state-level compliance. On Tuesday, GET announced that it would implement a new bus fare structure for the new year. At the same time, it would also expand its on-demand microtransit service.
The New GET Bus Fare Structure
The new fare structure will not affect the cost of a single ride on GET buses. Instead, GET is raising the cost of its passes, which allow for unlimited rides over a set period. All 15- and 31-day passes that the service offers will become more expensive in the new year.
Expansion of Microtransit Services
Earlier this year, GET took over a microtransit service from the Consolidated Transportation Services Agency (CTSA). The CTSA, which is based in Los Angeles, gave over its operations to GET in July. That service, which GET calls “On-Demand,” was very popular among Bakersfield residents. As a result, the city is expanding this service to encompass all of Bakersfield.
Microtransit refers to on-demand transit services that transport fewer people than typical transit services. They typically use minibuses or vans and apps to link individual riders with their destinations. In Bakersfield, On-Demand charges riders based on the length of their trip. On-Demand will raise the cost of regular microtransit trips that exceed 12 miles under the new fare structure. It will also begin charging reduced-fare customers based on their distance traveled as well.
GET Trying to Shore Up Shortages in Bus Revenue
So why is GET increasing the cost of its services like this? To put it simply, GET was missing its funding goals. The state government has a requirement that all transit systems reach a certain threshold of fare revenue. In June of this year, GET mulled over a variety of options to maintain its compliance with this regulation. These options included multiple options that would raise taxes on locals. However, Bakersfield residents have repeatedly rejected such proposals. So now we have higher fares across the board, which was also an unpopular option. GET needs to get its funding, though, so that’s the reality we live in.