Upon hearing yesterday of the increase in rates in the Lafayette paratransit bus system, I was appalled. This bus service carries the city’s disabled from one scheduled destination to another for a rate of 50 cents each way. On Oct. 7, Lafayette’s City-Parish Council increased this to $1.50 per ride.
This makes no sense at all. This segment of the population, the disabled, can least afford an increase in spending, particularly a tripling in their travel budget. While I understand that gas prices are increasing, what the council neglects to realize is that disability checks are not increasing, and neither are wages.
If an increase in fares was necessary, I do not understand why it was not a small increase or a gradual increase over time. Who among us can say that we can handle a 300 percent increase in spending in our budgets?
This increase effectively triples a portion of these individuals’ budgets when they have no other alternative for travel. They utilize this service because they are disabled and cannot drive. Now they will be held hostage for this fare increase even if they cannot pay it, and many of them will have to sacrifice other essential items in their budgets to pay for this.
And, as they could not drive, they were not likely to be able to arrive at the recent meeting to discuss this issue. The council has effectively targeted a section of the population that is unable to fight this issue and passed this increase rather quietly. While they would not and could not have attempted to pass a 300 percent increase to any facet of life that affected the River Ranch dwellers of this city without extreme protest and, in all likelihood, a resounding defeat, they can and have done so to a largely underrepresented population.
And while in Democratic societies we boycott services or products that we feel are overpriced, these individuals will be largely unable to do so. The people who use this service often have no other means of transportation and need this service to get to doctors’ visits, to work, and to other destinations. This service is the key to freedom and travel for the people who use it, and now they will have no choice but to pay for it.