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Altus will see a fare increase to use Southwest Transit

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ALTUS, Okla._A fare increase in the small transit system in Altus is coming next month.

That was announced Thursday at the Southwest Community Action Group's public forum. The non-profit is required to hold forums every year before applying for the grants that help operate the transit system. The forums help those in charge of the system to see if all the needs of the community are being met.

Everyone who attended the meeting said they felt that Southwest Transit was serving them just fine and as long as the buses continue to run and they are able to get around, they'll be happy. Not everyone in Altus is able to drive or don't own a car so the transit is their only means of transportation.

Joyce White relies on the transit system to take her to and from the senior center where she eats lunch everyday while visiting with friends.

"I couldn't be here everyday if I didn't," said White.

She has been using the public transportation for close to two years and now she has a friend living with her so now they both rely on it.

"Well, I couldn't do without it, it's that simple. And now that she's living with me we need it real bad," explained White.

Southwest Transit used to be service just for elderly people and the disabled and while the older crowd is still the most frequent riders…

"It's for anybody that wants to use it. I think that's the main message I would like to get out is that it's public for anybody," said Ingrid Gifford, Southwest Transit Program Director.

It's all based on a demand response so if you need a ride you just call and tell them where you are and where you want to go and they will tell you when they should arrive.

This will be the first fare increase in almost 20 years and it's going into effect next month. In town, fares will rise from $1.75 to $2.50 but the fare for going outside of city limits will stay at $3.50.

"Even though we are a non-profit agency we still need to be able to pay our drivers, be able to pay our fuel costs and the funding amount doesn't not cover all of it at all," said Gifford.

Their operating budget is $1.8 million and only half of that money comes from state and federal grants. White says there is one main reason why it's so important she has the bus to take her to the senior center each day.

"It's making me live longer, I'll tell you. A lot healthier and everything," said White.

There are 29 vehicles in the transit fleet that make over 100,000 trips each year, including two trips to Lawton from Altus everyday.

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