The Washington Post

Metro panel adds items to public discussion of possible fare hikes

[This post has been updated]

The Metro board’s finance committee decided Thursday to add several items to upcoming public hearings on the transit agency’s fiscal 2013 budget.

Metro General Manager Richard Sarles proposed a $2.5 billion budget to the board last week with the recommendation of increasing parking fees and raising bus and rail fares by an average of about 5 percent. Some riders would experience more dramatic increases, and Metro has said some would see no change.

Some board members have said they are concerned about presenting riders with fare hikes. Any fare changes would go into effect in July. Public hearings must be held in February and March before the board passes its budget.

On Thursday, the board’s finance committee requested the following items be added to the public docket:

●A $14 one-day rail pass with no time restrictions and increase the paper fare card surcharge from 25 cents to $1.

Sarles had proposed eliminating passes in an attempt to encourage riders to use SmarTrip cards instead of paper fare cards. His proposal also included plans to charge riders $4 in off-peak and $6 in peak times to use paper cards.

● Put in place a two-zone paper fare card pricing system where trips within a “visitor zone,” closer to the downtown core would cost $4 and all other trips $6.

● Allow each jurisdiction to implement a 5-cent surcharge to pay for station improvements. It is not clear how many stations that would impact.

● Have further public discussions if MetroAccess rates are to be changed. Metro’s Accessibility Advisory Committee has suggested Metro implement a “base boarding fare” of $2 or less and that a zone system be created to set additional charges based on distance.

The changes suggested Thursday are not final. Metro’s board will decide at its full board meeting Jan. 26 what will go on a public docket for hearings.

Follow me on Twitter @postmetrogirl.



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