The Metro Board adopted steep bus and subway fare increases yesterday that will cost rush-hour transit riders from 5 cents to 25 cents more per trip beginning June 29.
The biggest one-time fare increase in Metro's seven-year operating history will affect commuters throughout the metropolitan area. The increase represents the board members' response to the pressure that inflation is putting on the local governments that subsidize Metro.
Subway fares for all rush-hour trips will increase 22 percent, which means the minimum cost of a rush-hour trip will jump from 45 cents to 55 cents.
Bus riders in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia all will pay at least 5 cents more per rush-hour trip. Some Virginia riders who travel from far-out Zone 3 into Washington will pay 25 cents more.
Metro traditionally has charged higher fares during rush hour, which it defines are being between 6 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. weekdays.
People riding buses the rest of the time will also pay higher fares -- at least 10 cents more in the District and Virginia and at least 5 cents more in Maryland. The 40-cent bus fare, unchanged in the District for nine years, will become a thing of the past when the minumum non-rush-hour bus fare in the District goes up from 40 cents to 50 cents.
The only fare the board did not change was the 50 cents it charges subway riders for all non-rush-hour trips. That fare, also charged on weekends and holidays, managed to survive for at least one more year.
The board also decided not to increase parking fees at the Metro lots in the District and Maryland. Commuters who drive to the big Orange Line lots at New Carrollton and Landover are going to face large enough subway fare increases as it is, the board reasoned.
The politics of hard time for government budgets was never more evident than in the Metro board's debate yesterday, which found the District of Columbia's two voting members split on a fare question for the first time.
Member Douglas N. Schneider, Mayor Marion Barry's representative on the board and a long-time opponent of fare increases, voted for the D.C. fare increases. The Rev. Jerry Moore, a member of the D.C. City Council as well as the Metro board, voted against the fare package because, he said, the bus fare increases would add "a difficult financial burden on the backs" of the District's large population of poor people. All four suburban members voted for the package.
The fare increases will provide a revenue gain in the year beginning July 1 of $13.2 million, Metro's financial planners say. Metro is projecting a record bus and subway operating budget of $271 million, revenues of $131 million and a deficit of $40 million.
That deficit, or subsidy, will be made up through a combination of federal, state and local aid. Without the fare increase, the deficit would have been $153 million. The D.C. deficiet along will be reduced by $4.3 million.
As is typical of Metro's fares, it is impossible to generalize about the impact of the increase on individuals. Metro's subway fares are based on mileage; the bus fares contain base charges plus zone charges in Virginia and Maryland; no transfer credit is allowed for switching from bus to subway, but some credit (depending on where you transfer) is permitted for switching from subway to bus.
The present rush-hour fare is 45 cents for three miles plus 9.5 cents for each additional mile. The new fare will be 55 cents plus 11.5 cents. This means the trip from National Airport to Metro Center will go from 60 cents to 75 cents; the trip from New Carrollton to Metro Center will jump from $1.15 to $1.40; the trip from Silver Spring to Metro Center will increase from 90 cents to $1.10, and the trip from Ballston to Metro Center will jump from 65 cents to 80 cents.
The rush-hour D.C. fare will increase from 40 cents to 50 cents. A premium fare of $1 will be charged for the £1 Capitol Hill express, premium fares of 75 cents will be charged for the B9 and P9 fringe parking lot expresses to downtown. BUS FARES -- MARYLAND
The rush-hour fare will increase-from 55 cents to 60 cents; the non-rush-hour fare will increase from 45 cents to 50 cents. BUS FARES -- VIRGINIA
The rush-hour one-zone fare will increase from 55 cents to 60 cents; the non-rush-hour fare will increase from 50 cents to 60 cents. Two-zone trips in Virginia that exclude Zone G will go from 70 cents to 80 cents; three-zone trips from 85 cents to $1. Two-zone trips that include Zone G will decrease from 85 cents to 80 cents; three-zone trips will remain at $1; four-zone trips will increase from $1.15 to $1.20. INTERSTATE BUS FARES
The D.C.-Maryland border-crossing charge will increase from 35 cents to 40 cents.
The D.C.-Virginia border-crossing charge will increase from 30 cents to 50 cents. BUS-SUBWAY TRANSFER
There will be no transfer credit for switching from bus to subway.
Riders can still transfer free from subway to bus at D.C. stations.
At Maryland stations, the transfer fee will increase from 10 cents to 15 costs.
At Virginia stations, the transfer fee will increase from 10 cents to 35 cents.
Zone charges and border-crossing charges must be paid during rush hour at all transfer points. ELDERLY AND HANDICAPPED
New bus fares of 20 cents will be charged for all trips within D.C. and 30 cents for all trips within Maryland or Virginia. Interstate trips will cost 50 cents.
Subway fares will be half the rush-hour regular fare, but no more than 50 cents. FLASH PASSES
Metro will sell five passes. Each is good for two weeks and valid for unlimited bus rides within the zones for which it is purchased, plus some subway ride value. The passes are:
A D.C.-only pass, costing $11, containing $6 in subway value.
A regionwide one-zone bus pass, costing $12, containing $5 in subway value.
A Maryland-D.C. pass, costing $18, containing $5 in subway value.
A two-zone Virginia pass, costing $16, containing $5 in subway value.
A three-zone Virginia pass, costing $20, containing $5 in subway value.
Metro planner Bob Pickett was asked last year to see if he could simplify the fare schedule. He offered several propositions, but all were rejected by the board. Pickett was asked yesterday if simplicity had been achieved.
"No," he said, after a long pause.