Celebrations and ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. today to commemorate the opening of three new Red Line stations in upper Northwest Washington -- the first in that section of the city. Today also marks the first day of higher rail fares, with bus fares to follow on Sunday.

The stations -- Woodley Park-Zoo, Cleveland Park and Van Ness-UDC -- will be open between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. today. Anyone boarding trains there will get a pass good for a free ride anywhere in the Metrorail system before 4 p.m. today.

Formal opening ceremonies, to be attended by D.C. Mayor Marion Barry and other civic dignitaries, begin at Woodley Park-Zoo at 10 a.m., at Cleveland Park at 11 a.m. and at Van Ness-UDC at noon.

Smoke from a fire last night at a private construction site adjacent to the Van Ness station seeped into the station, sending police and firefighters rushing to the scene, but Metro officials said it was insignificant and would not affect the opening today.

The 2.5-mile extension, built over a decade at a cost of $181 million, will open for its first regular service at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Train destination signs reading Van Ness that Metro had promised would be installed in time for the opening will not be ready until January, transit officials now say. In the meantime, Van Ness trains will display a large red circle by the operators' cab. Their destination signs will be blank.

In conjunction with the ceremonies, Metrorail base fares go up a nickel today to 65 cents. The new fare structure will also mean costlier rush-hour rides: Mileage fees used in determining peak rail fares will increase from 12.5 cents to 13 cents per mile after the first three miles.

On Sunday Metrobus base fares go up to 65 cents, except in the District during off-peak hours. Those fares will remain at 60 cents. Zone and border crossing fees will also rise. It is Metro's third fare increase in 17 months and is expected to reduce ridership by about 2 percent. Despite the loss, Metro planners predict that the new fares will generate additional revenue.