A paragraph in yestarday's Washington Post story about new Metro fare increases indicated incorrectly the votes of the two District of Columbia members of the Metro board. In fact, James E. Clark, who represents Mayor Marion Barry on the board, wanted to raise the nonrush-hour bus fare in the District from 50 cents to 55 cents. Councilman Jerry Moore supported an increase to 60 cents, which was adopted by the full board. Clark was the only board member to vote against the final fare increase package.
A new round of steep increases in subway and bus fares, ranging from 5 to 25 cents per one-way trip, received final Metro board approval yesterday and will take effect New Year's weekend.
The board approved the increases -- including a 60-cent minimum fare for all bus or subway rides throughout the area -- as part of an effort to overcome the transmit system's rising operating deficit. It was the first midseason fare increase in the system's history.
Even with the increases, the second round since last June, transit officials said that the system still will have a deficit of several million dollars in this year's budget, requiring an increase in local government subsidies.
The board put off action for at least several weeks, however, on a package of substantial cuts in bus service that encountered strong opposition at public hearings last month.
"Nobody wants this fare increase," said acting D.C. Transportation Director James E. Clark, "but the bills are coming in and the money is not there to pay them."
The fares that will increase the most on a percentage basis will be those for bus riders in the District of Columbia during nonrush hours and commuters riding the bus and subway from outlying suburbs to downtown.
For the first time, however, the minimum fare for either a bus or subway ride will be the same in all parts of tghe area throughout the day instead of the present crazy-quilt pattern of different boarding charges in different jurisdictions at different times. Metro's lowest fare now is 45 cents for nonrush-hour bus trips within Maryland.
"It's about time that we show some uniformity in respect to the fare system," said D.C. City Council member Jerry Moore (R-At Large). "And 60 cents [for a minimum] is not unreasonable. There are 70-odd fares dribbling around the metropolitan area. We need [something] that makes common sense for the people who ride this system."
Moore split with Clark, who represents Mayor Marion Barry on the Metro board and who voted in favor of raising the nonrush-hour bus fare in the District of Columbia from 50 cents to 60 cents. In June, that fare went up from 40 cents, where it had been for the previous nine years. Clark urged that it be raised only to 55 cents in January. Anything more, he said, would hurt low-income riders.
Moore retorted: "We need some uniformity . . . I am willing to take that step and not be niggardly over a nickel."
Even though the new fare system is somewhat less complicated than the old one, rush-hour commuters taking long trips stil will have to pay considerably more than the minimum, and in most cases much more than they do now.
For example, the round-trip price from Burke, Va., to K Street NW will be raised from $3.40 to $3.90 -- a 14.7 percent increase. This is on top of a 50-cent increase last June. But the new fare still is 30 cents less than the one that the board proposed when it first presented the fare-increase package in October.
To take some of the sting out of the increases, the board voted to give a 5-percent discount on all Metrorail farecards costing $10 or more. Metro also will sell bus tokens for the first time in several years, charging $11.50 for 20 tokens, about a 4 percent discount.
The new fares for bus rides will go into effect on Sunday, Jan. 4. Because it takes several days for the computerized fare gates to be changed, the new subway fares will be phased in at different stations over a four-day period from Jan. 1 to Jan. 4, during which the off-peak fare -- either the old 50 cents or the new 60 cents -- will be charged. The new higher rush hour prices will start on Monday, Jan. 5.
Subway fares already are the same throughout the area. During nonpeak hours they are a flat 50 cents, regardless of distance travelled. In rush hours the fare starts at 55 cents for the first three miles with an additional charge of 11.5 cents per mile after that. Under the new rate schedule the subway fare will be 60 cents during nonpeak hours and start at 60 cents during rush hour with an additional charge of 12.5 cents per mile after three miles.
For example, the one-way rush hour fare from Silver Spring to downtown Metro Center will rise from $1.10 to $1.20, while the fare from National Airport to Metro Center will climb from 75 cents to 80 cents. f
Under the board's original proposal, the National Airport fare and others to stations south of the Penatagon would have risen 5 cents more by eliminating a discount given to riders using these stations until a second subway line crossing the Potomac River is completed near the Pentagon. But the board voted to keep the discount after Fairfax Supervisor Joseph Alexander threatened to block all action yesterday if it was not maintained.
The final vote on the fare increase package was 4 to 1, with only Washington's Clark voting against it after his move for a 55-cent nonrush hour fare in the District of Columbia was defeated.
Metro General Manager Richard Page said the new fare increases average about 10 percent. On top of an average 12 percent increase last June, they mean that fares have risen almost one-fourth in just seven months. Page said an unexpected rise in costs, much of it for cost-of-living increases for unionized workers, and a drop in expected U.S. aid had caused a projected $12.3 million budget shortfall this year.
Page said the new fares will raise about $4.8 million and that an additional $4.2 million could be made up by tighter management. The remaining $3.3 would have to come from service cutbacks or higher local government subsidies.
In other parts of the fare increase package:
Daily parking lot rates will rise to $1.25 at all Metro rail stations except New Carollton just outside the Beltway, where the rate will be $1.
The D.C.-Maryland border-crossing charge for buses will increase from 40 to 50 cents during rush hours but remain at 25 cents off-peak.
The D.C.-Virginia state line crossing charge for buses will go up from 50 to 60 cents all day.
The bus fare for elderly and handicapped passengers will rise from 50 to 55 cents for trips between the city and suburbs, but other bus trip charges for them will not change. The rail fare for this group will be half the new peak period fares with a maximum of 60 cents, compared to the current 50 cent maximum.
The regionwide Flash Pass -- valid for both bus and rail trips throughout the system -- was eliminated. The board established three new Flash Passes for Virginia and one for D.C., all more expensive then their existing counterparts, but it delayed action on a new Flash Pass for the Maryland suburbs after Prince George's and Montgomery officials could not agree on what is should contain.