Metro fare hike proposal moves forward

After they'd just seen a rate hike last year for bus and rail rides, it was hard to find people in the Metro system Thursday with anything but disdain for talk of another fare increase.

But at Metro’s meeting Thursday, the Metro board voted to move ahead to plan public hearings required before a fare increase can take effect. The minimum fare now, $1.70, would rise to $2.10. The maximum fare from $5.20 up to $5.75.

"There's a lot I don't understand why that's happening,” says Andy Bixby, a Greenbelt resident.

Yet Metro's general manager said Thursday’s incident on the Red Line, with a cracked rail that led to a five hour delay, demonstrates the need to fix the system. He says Metro customers want that.

"They're concerned that we maintain a good system here that we got it back in shape after years of disinvestment and deferral of maintenance and that's really what the revenues are all about to help us support the operation to provide a much better system than today," says Richard Sarles, Metro general manager.

Perhaps. But they're still upset.

"They don't know what they're doing, obviously, they're making everybody pay for it,” says Ralph Graham, a D.C. resident.

Among worried visitors to Thursday's hearing were the disabled, who saw fares for Metro Access vans soar. they are worried.

"It's not fair,” said one blind man. “It's not equitable we're going to have to make difficult changes."