Popular Metro proposals advance in new budget; $5 SmarTrip bonus gets cut

Several changes popular with Metro riders are on track to be implemented — or made permanent — this summer.

However, the proposal to temporarily give riders a $5 bonus for adding $25 to a SmarTrip Card has been stripped out of the agency’s upcoming budget over cost concerns.

“It’s a $7 million hit to us,” said Metro board member Matt Letourneau. “And this one to me is not necessarily something that’s going to attract a lot of new ridership, or get people back.”

Other popular moves, including $2 weekend rail fares, $2 late night rail fares and free bus-rail transfers, are still part of the budget, which is for the fiscal year beginning in July.

The budget would also increase rail service, but only once Metro’s railcars that are sidelined over safety issues, such as the 7000 series, return to operation.

“I also want to acknowledge that any of these budget discussions right now are clouded by the 7000-series issue and the lack of frequency on the system, which is something the board is very much, acutely aware of,” Letourneau added. “We know that riders are very frustrated by that.”

The budget, after passing in committee, will go before the full board for a vote.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP.

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