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Friday, November 28, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 19.0° F  Overcast
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Has the Madison Metro rate hike hit ridership?

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz pushed through the 50-cent bus fare increase earlier this year, saying it was needed to pay for rising fuel costs and expanded services.

Opponents predicted the rate hike would backfire because ridership would drop.

Which side was right? The rate increase took effect on April 5. Preliminary numbers show a slight increase in ridership, about 1.7% over last April (about 30,000 more rides), according to Mick Rusch, spokesman for Metro Transit. So far this year, total ridership is up 6.4%.

Rusch says April's slow growth could be due in part to the fare hike, but also because the Madison school district's spring break fell in April this year, not March as in 2008, so "a lot of people were out of town.... Next month's ridership will give us a better picture."

Ald. Brian Solomon is keeping his eyes - and mind - open. "I still believe there's a good chance ridership will go down," he says. "Nobody knows. Obviously, I want ridership to go up. I want there to be a successful system."

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