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Metro Board Hikes Fares, Maintains Service
Metro fares are set to be increased in late June.

Metro fares in DC will increase to alleviate a $173 million budget shortfall. Photo by jcolman.

Last Thursday, the Metro Board of Directors unanimously approved the biggest fare hike in the history of the transit agency, totaling nearly $109 million in rail, bus and paratransit fare increases. The deal was made over a “lunch break,” closed to the public.

Fares would rise starting June 27, according to the preliminary proposal, which is subject to final board approval on June 24. Under this plan, Metrorail fares will increase by 18 percent, with an additional 20-cent “peak of the peak” service charge for trips during the busiest times, beginning in August. This would make maximum peak fares for Metrorail cost up to $5.45 per trip. (Check out this Streetsblog post about whether transit systems should charge more during peak times –  a supporting argument would be that it helps “build off-peak patronage, which supports more all-day service.” What do you think?)

Metrorail fares are set to increase at the end of June.

Metrorail fares are set to increase at the end of June.

Rail riders who use paper fare cards will also pay as much as 25 cents more per trip than SmarTrip users, as a way to encourage the use of electronic pre-payment.

Also, Metrobus fares will increase by 20 percent, costing up to $1.70 for customers who pay with cash. (Read our previous post about how Metrobus riders are hit the hardest under these adjustments.)

These and other fare increases are intended to help close the $189 million budget gap for fiscal year 2011, which starts July 1.

BUDGET CUTS

Meanwhile, Metro held a public hearing last night about the transit agency’s Capital Improvement Program budget for fiscal year 2011, which is expected to total $709.3 million. The complete list of projects includes things like replacing old buses and rail cars, increasing the capacity of bus garages, rehabilitating sections of the metro rail lines, upgrading power systems, fixing elevators and escalators, and improving bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

WashCycle points out that the board plans to “cut the funding for bicycle and pedestrian improvements by 53.3% from $3 million to $1.4 million.” Ironically, this is happening at the same time as the Federal Transit Administration is developing cycle-friendly policies to allow grant funding for bicycle improvements near bus stops and rail stations.

…and more on FARE HIKES

Here are some highlights of the proposed fare adjustments, from the Washington Examiner:

RAIL

The longest rail trip:

» Peak hour: $5 plus 20 cents if during the “peak of the peak” times, 7:30 to 9 a.m. or 4:30 to 6 p.m., plus 25 cents if using a paper card = $5.45

» Off-peak hour: $2.75, plus 25 cents if using a paper card = $3

The shortest rail trip:

» Peak hour: $1.95 plus 20 cents if during the “peak of the peak” times, 7:30 to 9 a.m. or 4:30 to 6 p.m., plus 25 cents if using a paper card = $2.40

» Off-peak hours: $1.60, plus 25 cents if using a paper card = $1.85

BUS

» Cash fare: $1.70

» SmarTrip fare: $1.50

METROACCESS:

» Twice the comparable bus or rail trip up to $7 per trip

Erica Schlaikjer contributed to this post.

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