THE REGION

Boycott Has Little Effect on Metro

A boycott of the Metro system yesterday that was called by riders angered by impending fare increases didn't exactly convince everyone to stay off the trains. During the morning rush, the subway recorded 237,744 trips, about 1,200 fewer than during the same period on Tuesday. Metro officials called it a normal ridership level.

Daily commuters Rob Lao and Ken Guarino organized the protest, saying that if riders avoided the subway and climbed into their cars for one day, the ensuing traffic jams would convince public policy makers of the vital importance of Metro and make them realize that governments -- and not riders -- should carry the brunt of the cost of public transportation. Metro directors are due to vote next month on whether to raise bus fares by 5 cents to $1.25; the base rail fare by 15 cents to $1.35; and parking fees by 75 cents a day. The maximum peak fare on rail would increase 30 cents.

Planners estimate that the proposed fares would make Metro too expensive for 3,200 daily bus and 13,900 daily subway riders, prompting them to stop using the system.

Reached in his minivan on his drive home last night from Crystal City to Montgomery County, Lao said his protest was not in vain. "The numbers aren't exactly significant, but hopefully, the point is being made, that it's shortsighted and bad public policy," he said.

If the Metro board approves the proposal, it would mark the second consecutive year that the agency has raised fares and fees to fill a shortfall in the operating budget and then returned extra revenue to local governments to reduce the increase in their annual subsidies.

March for Increased AIDS Funding

Organizers say several hundred demonstrators will take part in a march and engage in civil disobedience on Capitol Hill this morning to press their quest for more AIDS-related funding.

Michael Kink, a spokesman for Housing Works, an AIDS service and advocacy organizations, said more than 1,000 marchers are expected to gather at Third and D streets SE at 11 a.m.

The group will rally in Folger Park, then march to Republican and Democratic party headquarters to urge support for full funding for U.S. and global programs to treat and find a cure for the HIV virus. Kink said demonstrators will protest at 1 p.m. on the Capitol steps.

A demonstration permit allows the protesters to use one roadway lane for the march route, which will begin at Second and D streets SE and proceed west on D Street, north on South Capitol Street, northwest on Washington Avenue, east on Independence Avenue and north on First Street to the Capitol Reflecting Pool.

VIRGINIA

Heritage Music Trail Designated

Gov. Mark R. Warner, with mountain music artist Ralph Stanley at his side, signed legislation yesterday designating 224 miles on several mountain highways as "Virginia's Heritage Music Trail: The Crooked Road."

About 100 people clustered under umbrellas as Warner signed the bill on the steps of a house in Clintwood that will become a museum to Stanley's music. Warner said the designation of U.S. Routes 221, 58, 23 and 83 and State Route 40 through Virginia's coalfields could bring in millions of additional dollars from tourism. He said a similar effort in North Carolina raised about $120 million.

Other attractions on the trail include the Old Fiddlers Convention in Galax and the home town of country music's Carter family in Hiltons. Highway signs featuring a drawing of a guitar superimposed on mountains will be spaced every five miles through nine counties.

Woman Dies in Accident Near Reston

A Great Falls woman was killed Tuesday when she lost control of her car and swerved into oncoming traffic near Reston, Fairfax County police said yesterday.

Police said Alexandria Ahari, 20, of the 1100 block of Springvale Road, was driving north on Baron Cameron Avenue in a 1986 Mercedes-Benz. About 2:15 p.m., investigators believe, Ahari drove onto the shoulder near Hunter Mill Road, over-corrected and drove into the southbound lanes of Baron Cameron, where she hit a 2000 Jaguar driven by Nalia Nasik, 40, of Reston.

Ahari was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where she later died of her injuries, police said. Nasik was taken to Reston Hospital Center with non-life-threatening injuries. Police said the investigation is continuing.

MARYLAND

Dead Landscape Worker Identified

A landscape worker killed Tuesday in Montgomery County when he fell into the machinery of a mulch-spreading truck was identified by authorities yesterday as Michael Francisco Barrios, 15, of Wheaton.

People who knew Barrios said he was a U.S. citizen, born in Los Angeles, who grew up in Guatemala and recently returned to the United States. The accident occurred while he and another employee of TopMulch, based in Brookeville, were doing landscaping work at a home in the 12400 block of Bacall Lane in North Potomac.

Authorities said Barrios's death is under investigation by the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Administration and by the branch of the U.S. Labor Department that deals with child-labor laws. TopMulch's owner, Paul Saiz, did not return telephone messages yesterday seeking a comment on the accident.

Lethal Injection Method Defended

Prosecutors seeking to execute convicted murderer Steven Oken defended the state's method of execution, saying in a court filing yesterday that it conforms with the drugs and procedures employed in more than 20 other states.

"Legal challenges to lethal injection are nothing new," Ann Brobst, Baltimore County assistant state's attorney, wrote in response to criminal and civil motions filed by Oken's defense attorney. "They have been repeatedly raised and uniformly rejected for nearly two decades."

Attorney Fred Bennett has sought a temporary injunction to prevent Maryland from carrying out the lethal injection the week of June 14, in what would be the state's first execution in six years. His client received his death sentence for the 1987 sexual assault and murder of Dawn Marie Garvin, 20, a Baltimore County college student and newlywed.

Bennett's motions contend that the execution would violate state law and Oken's constitutional rights because of the drugs used, especially a paralytic chemical agent that would "cause him to be tortured to death."

"Two weeks pays the rent. Two weeks pays the gas bill. Then you've got to figure out where the rest comes from."

-- Brenda Teets, 41, a Cumberland, Md., tax preparer, on her life as one of the working poor. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Lindsey Layton, Karlyn Barker, Brigid Schulte, Darragh Johnson, Susan Levine and Tom Jackman and the Associated Press.