Why you’ll soon have to pay over 25 cents (on top of your fare) for Metro rides

Metro fares will soon be going up as part of the $4.8 billion budget approved Thursday by the WMATA Board of Directors.

This budget, which goes into effect July 1, avoids drastic service cuts the transit agency proposed in December when it said it faced a $750 million deficit. But to help bring in more revenue, fares will increase by 12.5%. That means the base fare will go up from $2 to $2.25, while the maximum fare jumps up from $6 to $6.75. Metro Access fares will also rise to $4.50.

Metro is also freezing hiring and wages, cutting administrative costs by $50 million and moving $181 million over from its preventive maintenance fund. The rest of the gap is being closed with a combined $463 million in funding promised by D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

Both Maryland and Virginia have passed budget bills with their contributions included. But earlier in April, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin amended the state’s funding in his budget proposal, putting its inclusion in the final version into question.

Nevertheless, Metro General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke thanked the three jurisdictions in a statement.

“This region is a great place to live, work and play, and our recent ridership reflects the vital role Metro plays in getting people where they need to go,” Clarke said.

As the board passed the budget, multiple members noted the region needs to find a more reliable way to fund the transit agency or it will end up facing more deficits in the future.

“It’s a choice that’s not perfect,” board member Joe McAndrew said. “Until there’s an adequate funding source for WMATA long term, it will never be perfect. So to that point, we’ve done our bit. We’ve got ourselves a year, maybe two.”

Board member Matt Letourneau called for Metro to develop a reserve fund.

“We don’t have that here. Most of our peer organizations do and certainly the jurisdictions do,” Letourneau said. “When money is saved, we can keep it and we can put it in a reserve fund to enable us to get through the inevitable things that are going to happen.”

Metro’s board will hold a joint meeting with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments next month, where finding financial stability for the system will be discussed.

The board also hired Michelle Zamarin as its next inspector general Thursday.

Zamarin currently works as litigation counsel at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Before that, she spent 20 years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, most recently overseeing its prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. She will join WMATA in June.

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