A Metro committee yesterday recommended increasing parking fees at most of the rail system's 19 lots in an attempt to provide an additional $1 million a year in revenue and encourage more commuters to travel to subway stations by bus.
The proposal, designed to take effect in July, would mark the first major increase in Metro's parking fees in five years. The plan called for increases ranging from 25 cents to 75 cents a day.
Subway riders now pay $1 to $1.25 a day to park at most Metro lots. Under the proposal, daily rates at most lots would range from $1.25 to $2. "This is one of the least painful ways of increasing revenue on the system," said John F. Potts Jr., Metro's assistant general manager for administration.
Metro officials contended that higher parking rates might help reduce congestion at Metro lots and increase subway ridership.
"The demand for Metrorail parking spaces throughout the system far exceeds the available supply," the authority said in a report. If parking fees were higher, officials said, some commuters who now drive to rail stations would get there by bus. More parking spaces would then be available for other riders.
The proposed increases were sharply criticized, however, by one Metro committee member. Fairfax County Supervisor Nancy K. Falck argued that higher parking rates would irk suburban commuters, including those who cannot get to rail stations by bus. "You're going to decrease rail ridership," she said.
The plan, recommended by Metro's budget committee, is expected to be reviewed by the Metro board next week and debated at a public hearing in the spring. Officials said revisions are possible.
Under the committee's proposal, daily parking fees would be set at $1.25 at the Shady Grove, New Carrollton and Landover stations.
The rate would be $1.50 at Rockville, Twinbrook, White Flint, Cheverly, Deanwood, Addison Road, Capitol Heights and Huntington along with the four Orange Line stations in Northern Virginia scheduled to open in June. These stations are Vienna, Dunn Loring and East and West Falls Church.
The charge would be $2 at Grosvenor, Fort Totten and Rhode Island Avenue. At Minnesota Avenue, the rate would remain at 10 cents an hour.