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Seniors worry as SunVan proposes 3x rate increase for handicapped service

Craig Smith

Paula Steiger fears if the hike goes through she'll be unable to have the social contact her doctor prescribed to reduce her depression

Seniors worry as SunVan proposes 3x rate increase for handicapped service

By Craig Smith. CREATED Aug 12, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Low income handicapped, squeaking by on fixed incomes may hear their budgets squeak even louder if a rate hike for the special van service they need goes through.
      
SunVan is asking the Tucson City Council to triple rates for a lot of the service's customers.

A lot of the seniors at Armory Park couldn't get there without a lift from Sun Van, so the idea that their fares might increase three times over is the talk of the center, and a real worry for people like Paula Steiger.

"I cannot use my walker and go grocery shopping.  I can not use it to get to some of my doctors appointments.  I can not use it to get down here to socialize and I would just set in the house and rot away."

Paula Steiger says coming out to socialize is more than fun, it's medicine her doctor ordered to hold off her depression.
    
She says she usually uses SunVan five days a week so here's how it would bite into her budget if SunVan convinces city council to end the low income discount and make every trip three dollars.

Right now SunVan's discount fare is a dollar each way, so two dollar round trip.  If you use the van five days a week, that's ten dollars a week, 520 dollars a year.
      
But if that jumps to six dollars per round trip, you're out thirty dollars a week and more than 15 hundred a year.
      
But SunVan says the average trip actually costs almost 29 dollars one way.
      
Michele Joseph of SunVan says it can help some van customers learn to ride the regular bus.

She says, "There might be some alternatives that we could look at, maybe some type of organizing certain organizations to help each other with providing transportation for their clients."
      
With city taxes subsidizing SunVan, the Council has been looking for better ways to cover costs, and it's up to council to decide if removing the discount Paula Steiger depends on is the right way to go.

"I would tell them it's like locking me in a cage and I would become like a caged animal and would just give up."

Council is set to vote on the rate plan in less than a month... on September 10th.

If you'd like to learn more about the plan click on this link.  You can comment on the plan at this e-mail.

Hearing Dates and Times

Tuesday, August 13
Beacon Group, media room
308 W. Glenn St.
11 a.m - 12 p.m.

Thursday, August 15
Eastside City Hall, media room
7575 E. Speedway Blvd.
4-5 p.m.

Public Hearing
Tuesday, September 10
City Hall Mayor & Council Chambers
255 W. Alameda
5:30 p.m.

 

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press