When Metro institutes its new subway fare card system July 1, District students will have to pay full fare - not the reduced rates they now pay - because the subway will no longer accept the 10-cent student bus tokens.
City officials also have not resolved the question of whether it is the responsibility of the city or of the Congress to pass legislation authorizing continuing the fare subsidy program for students when the law expires next month.
City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker ( a Metro board member) said that despite the controversy over which body has the authority to pass the legislation, the subsidy program is not in jeopardy.
"We don't intend to let the subsidies stop," Tucker said. "If we had to, the Council could pass emergency lengislation to continue the program until the question is resolved."
Currently, students may use bus tokens on both buses and subway. But the new farecard system willnot take tokens. The subsidy cost the city $3.7 million from June 1976 to May 1977.
By law, any student under age 19 in a District public, private or parochial school may ride a Metrobus for 10 cents - the cost of a token - with the city picking up the tab for the rest of the fare.
The law passed by Congress authorizing student fare subsidies expires July 30, and city officials have yet to decide who should pass necessary legislation to continue the program this fall.
"I'm not clear on where the jurisdiction now rests," said Council member Jerry A. Moore (R-at large), chairman of the Council's transportation and environmental affairs committee. "Students have to ride the buses.It's just a matter of who will initate the legislation to pay for it."
City officials also haven't decided whether they will seek to subsidize dubway fares and, if so, by how much before the beginning of the fall school session.
"I've been advocating rail (subway) subsidy as well as bus," Moore said. "Students who live along the rail corridor should be able to use the rail system under the (subsidy) program, but it is possible they may have to pay more for the program. I don't think we should discriminage against them."
When the subway card system card system is ineffect, the new fare will include a 40-cent base boarding rate for up to three miles in the system plus an additional 7.5 cents per mile charge during peak hours and 3.75 cents per mile off peak, with the computers rounding off fares to the highest nickel. The subway fare is now 55 cents during rush hour (peak) and 40 cents during off hours for any distance travelled.
Metro will also increase bus fares July 1, from 40 cents anytime to 50 cents during rush hour (from 6 to 9.30 a.m. and 3 to 6.30 p.m.). The fare remains at 40 cents during other times.
City officials estimate that the subsidy increase in bus fares will cost about $600,000, and they have submitted a supplemental budget request for thzt fiscal 1978.
The increase in costs has raised questions of whether students are abusing the subsidy program. In 1974, the city budget office estimated that misuse of the program cost the city between $50,000 and $100,000 a year.
An investigation by Moore revealed that there were some abuses, but Moore said a better system of tokens, rether than paper tickets used in 1974, has alleviated much of the problem.
"Back then, we paid for the tickets by weight, and oddly enough, during damp weather, they weighed more," he said. "Consequently, the District lost money during damp or wet weather."
Metro officials, however are still critical of the token system, saying students may use the tokens for non-school purposes and they qusetion how effective controls are.
"We feel there is abuse, but we can't control the application process - that's up to the schools," said Pat Sestito, assistant Metro treasurer.
Under the current system of controls, it is the responsibility of the school principal to sign all application forms for tokens. In most cases, Moore said, schools designate someone to take charge of distributing the forms, good for purchase of 20 tokens within a two-week period.