The Metro Board moved closer yesterday to inaugurating Sunday subway service in September and raising transit fares beginning July 1 when a committee forwarded to the board a report suggesting those actions.
The full board is scheduled to decide both issues next Thursday and the votes for Sunday subway service appear to be there, according to board members.
It has boiled down to a fairly simply political tradeoff. The suburbs want a fare increase, but need District of Columbia votes to get it. The District wants Sunday subway service but needs suburban votes to get it. Both issues will be decided in one vote.
Douglas N. Schneider, a D.C. board member, said that "part of the package for us is Sunday service. All of these things have to be a compromise."
And Walter Frankland, of the Arlington County board, who had expressed reservations about the Sunday subway schedule but who has vigorously backed the highest possible fares, noted that "I don't want to be against fare increases."
The major problem is Prince George's County, where officials are battling to keep their budget tight to meet the requirement of a taxi-trimming measure approved by the voters last November.
Francis B. Francois, member of the Prince George's county Council and the Metro board, said. "I just don't think we have the money. Period." Personally, Francois said, he supports Sunday service.
The board had traditionally sought unanimity on such questions because each local jurisdiction must voluntarily budget to share in Metro's deficit.
In other matters yesterday, new Metro General Manager Richard S. Page called on his former employer, the federal government, to release by Monday a $70 million grant to buy about 90 new subway cars.
"We must have firm knowledge that we have that grant." Page said, before Metro can go ahead with a bid-opening on May 23 on the new cars.
Federal officials have said that the grant is being held up until local jurisdiction pledge their agreement to pay for one-third of a $1 billion debt.
Mortimer Downey, assistant Transportation secretary, said yesterday that a meeting of top feedral officials was being arranged to discuss the Metro situation.
The board also forwarded to eight local governments yesterday a draft agreement that would finance three years of Metro construction beyond the approved and funded 60-mile system. Final action on the document is scheduled for June 11.