Cooper: An eventual free bus service may not be the solution one might expect

Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Riders exit a Carta bus on Market Street on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021 in Chattanooga, Tenn. The City of Chattanooga has announced it will be reinstating fares for CARTA buses for the first time since the spring of 2020.

Chalk up Chattanooga's bus service as the latest victim of COVID hangover.

For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic arrived in full in the spring of 2020, the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) has begun charging passengers to ride the bus.

But some people are saying it's too soon or that it's unfair to charge the homeless or people who can't afford the $1.50 one-way fare, or that it ought to be free.

It's no different from those who don't want to see an end to federal virus-related eviction moratoriums, rental assistance, tax credits and stimulus payments.

When people become used to not paying for something, or getting something they didn't work for, it is a habit few ever want to give up.

Complicating the process is the campaign promise this spring by then-mayoral candidate Tim Kelly to make CARTA fare-free.

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