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Posted at 01:31 PM ET, 04/23/2012

Metro board to vote on fare hikes

[This post has been updated]

Metro’s board of directors is expected to vote Thursday on an across-the-board fare hike for bus and rail riders and drivers who use parking facilities.


(Bonnie Jo Mount - The Washington Post)
The fare changes come after Metro held six public hearings in February and March to get rider feedback. Riders expressed frustration at poor service as rates are going up. The last time Metro put in place a broad, sweeping fare hike was in fiscal 2011.

Two weeks ago, Metro’s finance committee approved fare hikes that average about 5 percent on rail. The actual amounts would vary widely depending on the distance that a rider travels. The rates would go into effect July 1.

Metro officials said it takes about 60 days to update and test the computer systems, and crews need time to make and install new signs. In May, the board is expected to decide on the passage of its $2.5 billion annual operating and capital budget for fiscal 2013.

Metro officials revised their budget numbers for fiscal 2013, projecting that the transit authority would have a $103 million deficit, which is $16 million less than previously estimated. Metro said it was able to reduce its deficit because of administrative cost cuts and rosier expectations of revenue from riders.

The biggest change for rail riders would be the ability to buy a 28-day unlimited pass for the first time in Metro’s history. The new pass, which would be available on electronic SmarTrip cards, would cost $230 and would allow a user to travel unlimited distance any time of the day.

Metro’s base fare for rail riders would increase from $1.95 to $2.10. The maximum peak fare would increase from $5 to $5.75. The base off-peak rail fare would increase from $1.60 to $1.70. The maximum off-peak fare would be $3.50. Bus fares would increase by a dime, rising to $1.60 for those who use SmarTrip cards. Parking fees would rise by 25 cents.

Bus riders who pay cash would face a 20-cent surcharge. Metro has said it wants to push more people to use electronic Farecards because they are more efficient and transactions cost less to process.

Under the latest proposal, Metro also would eliminate its $9 one-day pass, which is valid after 9:30 a.m. on weekdays, and institute a $14 one-day pass that has no time restrictions.

Also, among the proposed changes, the fee for parking at Metro lots and garages would rise 25 cents.

The District, Maryland and Virginia are expected to contribute $669 million — up from $622 million in fiscal 2012 — as part of their operating subsidies to help run the transit system.

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By  |  01:31 PM ET, 04/23/2012

 
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