Eau Claire City Council looks to lower bus fares, plans new bike - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Eau Claire City Council looks to lower bus fares, plans new bike trail

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- Just weeks after the Eau Claire City Council passed the 2018 budget and raised transit bus fares, council members have voted to take a second look.

On Tuesday, the Eau Claire City Council voted to start developing a plan for reducing bus fares for low-income people in our community. The council members behind the proposal, Kathy Mitchell and Terry Weld, said during the meeting it is meant to be a starting point for them, along the with the city manager, to begin brainstorming funding options and ideas to keep prices low.

Earlier this month the council voted against a budget amendment tat would have prevented the price hike, and on Tuesday, some council members were frustrated to be having to revisit it.

"While there's an opportunity to look at how to make transit more affordable and accessible, at the same time, we set no parameters tonight. We have no idea what costs are going to be, no idea what the service levels are going to be, where in the budget we're going to look for money, anything. It's a good step forward but I think to do actual concrete things to not raise bus fares for low income riders, that ship sailed," said council member Andrew Werthmann.

Organizers said they hope to have some kind of plan ready to initiate by March or April.

The council also approved a liquor license transfer for what will soon be called The Social Club. Formerly the House of Rock on Water Street, the building is now owned by John Mogensen and Lisa Aspenson. The plans call the space to be available for meetings, weddings or other special events, but will not be open as a bar. The catering will be provided by Mona Lisa's. Owners are hoping to open by the end of next month.

The city of Eau Claire will also be getting a new trail. The council unanimously authorized the city manager to enter an agreement with state agencies to build a trail along Highway 37. The trail would run from Clairemont Avenue to Hamilton Avenue, connecting the new trail on Short Street and the Chippewa River Trail.

"Putting a trail in a location like this is really forward thinking and positions us well for future development in that area. We might not see that high traffic for bicyclists no but we could in the future, so I'm glad that we have that opportunity to accommodate those bicyclists that are there now, but even more for the future," said council member Kate Beaton.

The Wisconsin DOT is planning to rebuild that part of the highway next year and would pay for 80 percent of the trail. Eau Claire could pay the remaining $43,800.

The council also approved raising the sewer service rates. It is expected to cost the average homeowner an additional $2 per quarter. The time times these rates were raised was January 1 of this year.

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