OC Transpo riders could soon experience a fare hike for the fourth year in a row.

Coun. Diane Deans, chair of Ottawa's transit commission, floated the idea of a fare increase with CFRA on Monday, which would help balance the city's budget and keep property taxes low.

Last year, a 7.5 per cent fare hike increased the cost of an adult monthly bus pass to $91.50 from $84.75. That's an increase of $6.75 per month.

Deans says she doesn't expect transit fares to go up by such a large amount this year because it would conflict with the city's goal of increasing ridership.

"If your goal is to increase ridership then every time you have a significant fare increase -- 7.5 percent being significant -- then you think that would have an adverse impact on your ridership numbers," Deans told CFRA on Monday.

"I would be looking for something more closely tied to the inflationary rate or something that is a little bit of a bite-sized piece, not the whole mouth full."

Ottawa's inflation rate sat at three per cent in December 2010.

However, Deans told CTV Ottawa on Tuesday the transit commission hasn't met yet to discuss possible fare increases.

"When we see the proposal from city staff we will consider all the options. At this point it's premature to say what will happen because we haven't seen the budget documents," Deans said.

"Until I see the budget, I'm not going to put any number on that (fares)."

City staff will release the draft budget next week. It's expected a fare hike would help solve a forecasted $4.7-million shortfall in OC Transpo's budget.

New figures from the city released Tuesday show that despite last year's fare hike, ridership in the third quarter increased over last year by 2.1 per cent.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's John Hua