Memo details Metro rationale to hike fares, cut service 1 week sooner

A dedicated tax for Metro could take a step forward Wednesday afternoon. (WTOP/Amanda Iacone)

WASHINGTON — Metro plans to roll out reduced rail hours and fare increases on June 25 to reduce confusion for riders and to make it easier to adjust Metro workers’ schedules, according to a memo to the board explaining the timing.

Metro previously announced the June 25 start date for the service changes — about a week before the July 1 start of the agency’s budget year and the previously approved start date for the hours cuts.

Metro staff detailed the justification for the earlier switch in a memo to the Metro Board that was made available on Monday. The board is expected to vote Thursday whether to approve the earlier start of the reduced hours.

The board voted in December to cut hours for Metrorail service — a vote that specified the new operating hours would begin on July 1.

In March, when the board separately approved fare increases plus cuts to rush-hour service, the board gave more flexibility to the transit agency by approving the changes to start “on or about” July 1.

“To ensure effective and efficient communication with WMATA customers, staff is recommending all changes have the same implementation date currently scheduled for June 25, 2017,” the Metro Board memo said.

The revised start date was also picked in part because the last Sunday in June is when Metro’s union workers are set to shift to new schedules or work locations, and Metro staff would prefer not to shift workers into schedules that are only expected to be in place for one week.

“With the Independence Day holiday the following week, it is imperative that employees’ work schedules be in place before the holiday and special services associated with those events. Implementation in the week before the holiday is also beneficial to commuters who may not be as aware of changes if made after holiday-associated vacations and time off,” the memo said.

Starting the service cuts and fare hikes earlier also will help Metro’s budget to some degree.

Rush-hour rail fares will rise 10 cents, off-peak rail fares will rise 25 cents, regular and express bus fares will rise 25 cents to $2 and $4.25 respectively. Airport express route fares will rise 50 cents to $7.50 even though service will be reduced on the routes serving Dulles International and BWI Marshall airports.

Metro has also set June 25 as the end of planned, work zones that have been part of the transit agency’s SafeTrack repairs.

The memo focuses on the need to make all the changes at once.

“Station signage, fare tables, software updates and schedule information for both rail and bus will need to be produced and installed only once, avoiding the duplication necessary in an extended transition,” the memo said.

What is changing

Metro’s operating hours are set to shift. The rail service will close at 11:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and at 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. On Sundays, trains will run from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

In addition, rush hour trains will leave every 8 minutes from end-of-line stations instead of every 6 minutes. Yellow Line Rush Plus service will no longer run between Greenbelt and Franconia-Springfield.

Some additional late-night or early morning weekend buses will begin running including the L2 from D.C. into Montgomery County, the 83 to College Park and the 38B to Ballston.

Other bus service changes include:

  • Significant reductions in B30 service between Greenbelt and BWI Marshall with fewer buses running on weekdays and no buses on weekends.
  • W19 Indian Head Express service canceled.
  • 2T Tysons Corner-Dunn Loring canceled.
  • 7X Lincolnia-Pentagon canceled.
  • Addition of a new Route 10N to Reagan National Airport after Metrorail closes on Friday and Saturday night and before the rail system opens on Sunday to connect to Crystal City, Pentagon City and Pentagon. However, the 13Y route that had provided early morning service between Union Station, Pentagon City, Crystal City and the airport is canceled.
  • Routes 17A and 17F Kings Park routes are canceled, other 17 routes remain in service with some changes.
  • Routes 18R and 18S Burke Centre routes are canceled, but Route 18P will have additional morning service.
  • Route 28X Leesburg Pike Limited is canceled.
  • REX Richmond Highway Express weekday service will go to the Fort Belvoir Post Exchange/Commissary via Gunston Road. Buses will not serve Jackson Loop.
  • Several other bus routes will stop at a Metro station and no longer continue to Downtown D.C. or have other bus stop changes.

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