SOUTH BEND — It's official. Bus rates in St. Joseph County are going up. In a unanimous vote, Transpo's board voted Monday to raise the general fare from 75 cents to $1. The increase impacts every fare type across the board, but Transpo did strike a compromise with opponents and won't institute a transfer fee — at least not yet. "Transpo realizes that it's never a good time to institute a fare increase," said Chip Lewis, Transpo board chairman. "For this reason, Transpo has taken all necessary steps to avoid a fare increase for the past 18 years." But in this economy and with what opponents say was short notice, people who rely on the bus say they're not happy with the decision. "Twenty-five cents, if you don't have it, is a lot, and to get pinched another 25 cents, it's going to hurt," said passenger Donna Laurence. But Laurence says transportation is a necessity and like any essential item, people will pay. "If you buy a gallon of milk and it increases by 20 cents, you're going to buy it anyway, if you really need it," she said. Transpo was facing a nearly $1.5 million dollar budget short-fall for 2010. After cutting some routes, jobs and other expenses, it looked like the budget was balanced. That was until a miscalculation in property tax revenues by the county forced Transpo to return more than $300,000. Board members say the increase was the last option. "We have tried to balance that situation and at the same time provide quality service. It's a tough struggle," said board member Oliver Davis. It's something Laurence says riders will just have to overcome. "Give it a chance, and we'll be able to adjust. It's just a matter of making some choices, and I'm pretty sure that we'll be able to adjust," she said. The rate increase will take effect April 5. The Transpo board could consider changing the transfer fees at the beginning of 2011.