Metro has announced the locations of seven public hearings at which area citizens can voice their opinions about proposed fare increases on the buses and subway, including what MetroScene considers an ill-advised and unconscionable 5-cent charge for bus transfers.

The hearings will begin Jan. 18 and continue through Jan. 27. You don't have to sign up in advance, but if you do, you'll be put on a list and be permitted to speak earlier than those who just show up.

Take it from someone who has followed transit matters for a quarter century: Your testimony can have an effect on the eventual decision by the Metro board. Last time there was a similar round of hearings, almost nobody showed up, and all the proposed increases went into effect without a whimper.

In brief, apart from the nickel transfer fee, Metro would add 10 cents to its current base bus and subway fares and its fares for crossing from the District into Maryland or Virginia. Rush-hour rail fares would rise by 2 cents a mile (from 13 to 15 cents after the first three miles for 75 cents).

Here are the hearing dates and places, all at 7:30 p.m.: Jan. 18, Hammond High School, Alexandria; Jan. 24, Kenmoor Junior High School, Landover; Jan. 25, George Mason High School, Falls Church, and Montgomery County office building (downstairs auditorium), Rockville; Jan. 26, Bruce-Monroe Elementary School, 3012 Georgia Ave. NW, Washington, and Jan. 27, Hine Junior High School, Eighth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington. There's also a 2 p.m. hearing Jan. 26 at Washington's Chevy Chase Community Center, 5601 Connecticut Ave. NW.

To sign up in advance, write Delmer Ison, Metro's corporate secretary, at the transit authority headquarters, 600 Fifth St. NW.