Metro officials yesterday recommended cutbacks and other changes in Metrobus service on more than 50 routes in Northern Virginia in an attempt to reduce costs by over $1 million a year.

The proposals were in line with Metro General Manager Carmen E. Turner's plan to curtail service on bus routes with relatively low ridership. Last month, she called for a $1.5 million reduction in "marginal" routes in the next fiscal year to help curb rising deficits.

The recommendations followed similar proposals by Fairfax County and other Northern Virginia officials. Nevertheless, the proposed cutbacks triggered a sharp debate last fall by members of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, and they are expected to draw protests from bus riders.

Under the proposals, some bus routes would be eliminated, while service on others would be reduced or revised. Officials also recommended several new routes in developing areas. The proposals are to be considered at public hearings and may be modified before they are put into effect next June.

The plan, which would affect bus routes in Fairfax and Arlington counties and in Alexandria, Falls Church and Fairfax City, is among several moves now under way to revamp Metro and other local bus service.

Next Sunday, the Metrobus system and Montgomery County's Ride-On bus system are scheduled to revise many routes in the District and Montgomery, partly to increase service to recently opened Red Line subway stations. County officials yesterday announced plans for free trips on all Ride-On routes from Sunday to Wednesday.

In Fairfax and Alexandria, Metrobus routes are to be revised March 31 to increase service to Fairfax's Huntington rail station and to cut costs.

Metro's board of directors yesterday scheduled public hearings on the new proposals for Feb. 28 in Springfield, March 4 in Arlington and March 5 in Falls Church.

The proposals would affect routes 1A, 1B, 1D, 1E, 1F, 1H, 1M, 2A, 3A, 3E, 5K, 5W, 5Y, 6A, 6G, 6L, 6P, 7C, 7D, 7E, 7H, 7P, 8W, 8X, 8Z, 10B, 10C, 13A, 13B, 13C, 13D, 17A, 17B, 17C, 17K, 17M, 18A, 18B, 18C, 18D, 18E, 18G, 18H, 18K, 18M, 18R, 22A, 22B, 22G, 23A, 23T, 24A, 24F, 26A, 29C, 29E and 29M.

In other developments yesterday, Turner appointed Sara E. Lister, a Washington lawyer and former Army general counsel, Metro's general counsel. Lister, 44, will succeed John R. Kennedy, who resigned last year. Her salary will be between $70,000 and $80,000 a year, a spokesman said.

Richard A. Silas, 46, Metro's acting human resources director, was appointed to the newly established $67,621-a-year post of personnel and training director.