An article Sunday incorrectly reported revenue levels expected from compromise fares tentatively agreed on by Metro board members. The Metro staff estimated the full compromise package would generate about $1.55 million less in fiscal 1982 than fares the staff had proposed.
Members of the Metro board broke a deadlock yesterday over a proposed fare increase, clearing the way to raise fares next month when the Red Line extension opens to the Van Ness station. The agreement is scheduled to go before the board formally on Thursday.
Meeting at a retreat center outside Baltimore, board members tentatively agreed to raise base rail fares a nickel to 65 cents and to scrap proposals for a 10-cent bus transfer charge until they see the results of six-month studies of the two issues, Chairman Joseph Alexander said yesterday.
The board had hoped to give final approval to a fare increase package at a meeting last Thursday. But in a stormy session, members from Montgomery and Prince George's counties broke with their counterparts from the District and Virginia, primarily over rail fares.
Maryland members contended that staff proposals, supported by D.C. and Virginia, for a 65-cent base fare and an additional 13.5 cents at rush hour for every mile traveled beyond three, would subsidize short-haul riders in the District at the expense of long-distance suburban commuters.
Maryland also broke ranks with the other two jurisdictions by favoring the transfer charge, saying it would help reduce fare evasion that is accomplished by illicit exchange of transfers. Maryland contends that this practice centers in the District and means more subsidies from Maryland taxpayers.
Besides setting the 65-cent base rail fare, yesterday's compromise calls for a 13-cent mileage charge at rush hour. The base fare is the same as in the staff proposal, supported by the District and Virginia, and 5 cents lower than what Maryland wanted. The mileage charge is midway between the 12.5 cents proposed by Maryland and the staff's 13.5 cents.
The staff plan was supposed to generate about $7 million in new revenue by next June 30 to help cover Metro's rising operating costs. Alexander said the formula agreed on yesterday would probably generate about $250,000 less.
The compromise would also tend to make long-distance rail trips, like those into the city from New Carrollton in Prince George's County, slightly cheaper than under the staff plan. But Metro planner Robert Pickett said yesterday that exact station-to-station fares had not been worked out yet.
The compromise plan also includes a six-month study by outside consultants to get precise information about how much it costs to operate stations and how much to run trains. These issues arise in determining how fares should be distributed among riders in the eight jurisdictions that are members of Metro.
Yesterday, Prince George's County board member Raymond LaPlaca said: "We gave quite a bit." But with Prince George's riders already tending to take some of the longest rides in the system, and the Red Line scheduled to open to Shady Grove in Montgomery County in late 1983, the two Maryland counties appear anxious to keep this issue in the public mind.
Maryland representatives also dropped their insistence yesterday for the bus transfer charge. In return, they got a commitment for a second six-month study into fare abuse using transfers.
D.C. members agreed that if it were found that fare abuse in the District raised the subsidy payments of other jurisdictions, the city would cover those extra costs. The city has opposed the transfer charge on the grounds that it in effect would raise base fares for transfer riders and would not be an effective tool against fare evasion.
This week, board members are to consult with their local governments concerning the fare compromises and then meet again on Thursday. Alexander expressed optimism yesterday that the new plan would be approved then.
Meanwhile, on Monday technicians will begin the five-week job of reprogramming Metro's Farecard gates for the new fares, operations chief Theodore Weigle said. By starting before a formal board decision, it should be possible to convert the gates in time for the Dec. 6 Van Ness opening, avoiding loss of revenues, he said.