Metro discussing July fare increase

WASHINGTON — Metro riders will pay more to ride trains and buses in July, and board members are deciding just how much.

Metro General Manager Richard Sarles and Chief Financial Officer Carol Kissal presented four scenarios on fare increases for buses and trains.

Bus fares for SmarTrip users would go from $1.60 to either $1.75 or $1.85. Train fares would either go up 3 or 4 percent, or about 10 cents on average per ride.

Metro also wants to raise MetroAccess fares on disabled riders about 5 percent. The cost to park at a Metro lot would go up 25 cents and 50 cents in Prince George’s County.

“The board is looking at various aspects of fares and when they come to a conclusion, it will not be so confusing, it will be clear,” says Sarles.

Board members expressed concern about the MetroAccess fare increase, which affects low-income riders. Several discussed changing the formula to calculate MetroAccess fares to make it more affordable to those who depend on the service to get around.

“There’s lots of concern about impact of fares on members of that community. That’s something the board is considering and will take into account when making the final decision,” says Sarles.

Ridership dropped during the last couple years as fare hikes went up and the transit subsidy went down. Congress cut the subsidy that federal employees and other riders get to use transit from $245 to $130. Sarles continued to urge lawmakers to restore the subsidy, arguing that the drop means more people will take their cars to work and clog the local highways.

Sarles was asked whether the fare increases could have a similar impact.

“The transit subsidy is a major impact, the proposal that are being considered by the board are fairly modest, in regards to fare increases,” he says.

Sarles was also asked about MWAA announcement earlier this week that the Silver Line was not substantially complete, meaning more delays. He says he’s glad that MWAA is inspecting.

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