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To help low-income riders, CATS to start new 'fare-capping' program

CATS currently has 56 hybrid diesel-electric buses like this one, but no battery electric buses yet.
David Boraks
CATS plans to start a "fare-capping" program.

The Charlotte Area Transit System is considering a new payment policy known as “fare-capping” to help low-income riders.

Under the proposal, riders who buy bus and train tickets individually would be able to ride for free once they have bought enough tickets to equal the cost of a monthly pass, which is $88.

They would begin paying again at the start of the next month.

CATS would track how much money someone has spent when they buy tickets on the CATS app. The cost of a one-way regular bus and train fare is $2.20.

Krissy Oechslin chairs the Transit Service Advisory Committee, an advisory group to CATS. She said fare-capping helps people who may not have enough money for a monthly pass at the start of the month.

“You might not have $88 the first of the month to buy that monthly pass so then you pay for each ticket and you may end up spending much more than $88,” Oeschlsin.

Other transit systems, like St. Louis and Indianapolis, have started fare capping programs.

CATS Chief Executive John Lewis discussed the idea at Wednesday’s Metropolitan Transit Commission meeting.

CATS said it hopes to start the program by the end of the year. Fare-capping does not need to be approved by the MTC in a formal vote.

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Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.