DC, Md., Va. board members propose additional Metro fare changes, service cuts

WASHINGTON — Some Metro parking fees could be changed, different bus lines could be scrapped or saved, and trains could turn back mid-route under a series of competing options offered Thursday by D.C., Maryland and Virginia Metro Board members.

The potential changes that include canceling the 5A bus to Dulles Airport — a plan that has caused significant strife in the past — were added to the expected docket for a public hearing this winter on General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s proposed budget.

The budget already includes across-the-board fare hikes, longer scheduled waits for trains at all times of day and cuts for some bus routes. It also includes service hours cuts that recently proved contentious before a Metro Board committee, but eventually advanced to go before the full board in two weeks. The District is threatening to veto the hours proposal if it is not limited to a single year.

The District’s proposed budget amendments call for the end of the 5A bus, increasing the fares for any remaining airport buses from $7 to $9 and introducing a seven-day bus pass that costs 9 times the regular bus fare rather than the 10 times the fare it costs currently. That would limit the proposed bus fare increase for those with weekly passes.

Fairfax County’s proposed amendments include raising fares on the 5A to cover all costs of the service, or alternatively, a discussion about canceling the bus entirely. There could also be an end to the 28X route on Leesburg Pike and the 7X between Lincolnia and Pentagon; fewer Richmond Highway Express (REX) buses in the middle of the day; and fewer buses on the 16G, 16H and 16K routes between Virginia’s Columbia Heights and Pentagon City.

In the District’s suggestion, changes could include running more limited-stop service on 16th Street to and from Silver Spring weekdays and Saturdays by converting S2 and S4 trips to limited-stop S9 trips.

D.C. is also proposing dropping the parking fee by a quarter at the Anacostia Metro station, while increasing the fee by the same amount at Minnesota Avenue and Rhode Island Avenue. The District also wants feedback on ending Silver Line service east of the Anacostia River on nights and weekends. The Blue Line would still serve the stops east of Stadium-Armory at those times.

Maryland’s proposed budget amendments focus on changes to bus routes to avoid some of the cuts proposed by the general manager.

The Maryland plan would still eliminate the W19 Indian Head Express, but would save the B30 bus between Greenbelt and BWI-Marshall airport by reducing service to once an hour.

It would also change the W13 Bock Road route and P17, P18 and P19 Oxon Hill-Fort Washington routes to end at Southern Avenue station instead of downtown, and eliminate the Interstate 270 express service on the J7 and J9.

Maryland would also eliminate or limit service on a series of other routes.

The Metro Board Finance Committee approved incorporating all of the possibilities into the list of items that will be part of public comment on the budget. That allows the board to consider incorporating all or parts of the changes in final budget negotiations.

In two weeks, the full board is scheduled to approve scheduling the public hearing for around the week of Jan. 30. The public comment period is expected to run from Jan. 14 to Feb. 6.

Maryland Board Member Michael Goldman suggested further changes could include a reduced fare program for people in low-income households up to 200 percent of the poverty line to limit the impact of bus fare increases.

Actual votes on the budget, including fare hikes and service cuts, are expected around March.

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