After getting hundreds of protest from transit users about the cost and complexity of its original bus-to-subway transfer plan, the Metro board board has scheduled additional hearings this month on a new proposal that reduces the premium cost of such trips for most Washington riders.
Under the first plan proposed, it would have cost an Anacostia resident as much as $1.70 round trip between home and the Farragut North station at Connecticut Avenue and K Street NW. The new proposal trims that to $1.45, with somewhat lower fares to the older sections of downtown.
However, this compares with the present round-trip bus fare of 80 cents, anywhere in the city, which may rise to $1 during rush hours.
If approved, the new bus-rail fare structure would go into effect July 1, when Metro is sceduled to open its second rail line, extending 12 miles from the Stadium-Armory station throgh downtown Washington to Rosslyn and National Airport in Arlington County.
Six public hearings are scheduled on the bus-rail plan. Two of them will be held in the District, at 7:30 p.m. March 15 at Lincoln Junior High School, 16th and Irving Streets NW, and at 7:30 p.m. March 21 at Ballou High School, 4th and Trenton Streets SE. District residents also may testify at suburban hearings, listed at the end of this article.
The proposed new fare structure also would apply to the rail line from downtown to Silver Spring, which is scheduled to open next November beyond the existing Rhode isaldn Avenue terminal. In the District, the new extension will serve the Brookland, Fort Totten and Takoma stations.
A round trip from the Walter Reed Hospital area to Farragut North station, using a feeder bus and transferring to and from a train at Takoma, would cost $1.95 at the cheapest. The present comparable bus fare is 80 cents.
The proposed Metro fares are stated as round trips, rather than the traditional one-way changes, because the transit authority plans to offer discounts only for people who travel in both directions. The one-way fare from the Walter Reed area to Farragut North would be $1.35, compared with 40 cents on a bus.
Also, in this article, the fares cited are those to be charged during rush hours, when the largest surge of passengers - mostly commuters - uses public transit.
Offpeak fares on buses would remain 40 cents in each directions, while offpeak fares on the subway would be less than those in rush hours only if a rail trip is less than three miles long.
Under the transfer arrangement, an Anacostia rider would save about 15 minutes by transferring from a bus to a train to get downtown. Metro provided no estimate of time saving for the Walter Reed area rider, since plans for feeder bus routes in that area have not been prepared.
The bus-rail transfer plan for the opening of the second rail line in July provides for rerouting numerous bus routes to serve or terminate at rail stations.
However, earlier to cut the Pennsyvlvania Avenue bus route into two pieces have been dropped.
Those plans had called for one segment of the route to serve the Anacostia area, feeding into the Potomac Avenue subway station near the 14th Street and Pennsylvania Aveue SE, just west of the Sousa Bridge. The other, longer segment of the bus line would have run from Potomac Avenue through downtown and Georgetown to Friendship Heights.
The District also has settle a dispute with Prince George's County by agreeing to load and unload suburban buses on Pennsylvania Avenue near the Potomac Avenue station, rather than parking them between trips on residential streets adjoining the subway station.
Contrary to a widely held belief in Northwest Washington, Metro is not planning to terminate its Connecticut Avenue bus lines at the Dupont Circle subway station.
The L2, L4 and L6 buses will continue to run to the Federal Triangle. Only the L3, a rush-hour line to the Southwest Mall, will be discontinued.
The forthcoming hearings will deal only with the Metrobus and Metrorail fare system, and not with the changes in the bus routes. The route changes are currently in the process of being approved by the Metro board following the earlier set of hearings last October and November.
A total of 157 witnesses presented testimony, much of it critical of the proposals, at those hearings. Since then 96 letters and several petitions bearing 747 names were submitted.
Following is a summary of the fare proposals which will be considered at this month's hearings:
Rusk Hours (6 to 9:30 a.m., 3 to 6:30 p.m. weekdays) - 50 cents to get aboard a train and ride for three "composite miles," with 10 cents for each additional composite mile. Composite miles are calculated by averaging averaging the straight geographic distance and the actual travel distance between stations. If two stations are geographically six miles apart but a train must travel 10 miles between them over a roundabout route, the fare is charged for eight miles.
All Other Hours - 40 cents to get aboard and travel two composite miles, with 10 cents for each additional mile. The effect is to encourage short rides outside rush hour. From Dupont Circle to Judiciary Square, for example, the offpeak fare would be 40 cents, the same as on a bus.
The rush-hour fare would rise to 50 cents in rush hours and stay at 40 cents at other times. Free tranfers would be provided between buses, but not between buses and trains. The current fare system would remain in effect for suburban trips. These involve the basic fares plus zone charges.
D.C. City Council member Marion Barry Jr. has introduced a resolution in the Council seeking to block the 50-cent city fare. If adopted, it would not be binding on the city's Metro directors, but would be influential.
Occasional Trips - Full bus free plus full train fare, paid separately. In every instance, this would be at least double the present bus fare.
Round Trip in One Day - This provides a discount of 40 cents or 50 cents for a round trip, depending upon the time of day.
A passenger boarding a bus pays the full fare, gets a special transfer and saves it. Arriving at the subway station, the passenger pays the full train fare downtown.
Returning, the passenger pays the full train fare and, arriving at the end of the train ride, validates the transfer that was obtained on the inbound trip. This is done with an automatic stamping device in the station concourse. The transfer will be accepted as a full bus fare to any destination in the District.
Several additional steps are needed for travel that involves more than one change of vehicle, such as bus-rail-bus.
This method was proposed last fall by Metro for all bus-rail commuters, but was criticized by many people as being too complicated. It "may appear to be complicated," Metro's planning office argued back in a recent report to the board, "but once the public has actually experienced the transfer procedure . . . they will find it no more difficult than the transfer procedure in effect today."
Commuter Pass - Metro plans to sell a two-week ticket. The card will have a predetermined amount of rail fare value encoded onto magnetic tape on one side. The cost of each trip will be subtracted from this value by electronic devices installed in turnstilelike fare gates in each station concourse. On the other side, the card will be identified as a bus pass, good for unlimited free travel throughout the District and for a 50-cent basic bus fare in the suburbs, with additional zone fares to be paid in cash. The price of the ticket will be set at a level that, in effect, will give each rush-hour commuter a 75-cent daily discount from full fare for each round trip.
ELDERLY AND HANDICAPPED
Half fare (rounded downward to the closest nickel) for persons 65 or older and medically certified handicapped, at all hours.
All hearings will begin at 7:30 p.m. Witnesses may get on the list to testify at any hearing by telephoning 637-1092. Additional information is available by telephoning 637-1328. Metro lists the hearings as Docket B77-1.
March 14, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, 8729 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring.
March 15, Lincoln Junior School, 5800 N. Washington Blvd., Arlington.
March 21, Ballou High School, 4th and Trenton Streets SE, Washington.
March 22, Kenmoor Dr., Landover, Prince George's County.
March 23, Lee High School, 6540 Franconia Rd., Springfield, Fairfax County.