Metro fare increases could be instituted in July 2012, WMATA says

Come next year, you might be paying even more to ride the rails in the Washington area.

Facing a continuing budget gap, Metro is once again considering whether to charge passengers more to get around on buses and trains.

On Thursday, Metro said the fare increases are coming, and they hope they'll fill what WMATA says is a $124 million budget deficit.

The Metro board says that its costs for pensions, labor and health care for employees are rising while revenue drops.

While the system doesn't plan to cut service, something that has been bounced around several times before, it does plan to increase ticket prices and simplify the fare structure in the process.

Currently, fares are determined by the distance you travel and the time of day, which are separated into off-peak, rush hour and "peak-of-the-peak" fares.

Metro says potential solutions include increasing bus and rail fares by a dime, or adopting a "pay by zone" system on trains.

The agency says that the fare increases will not be as extreme as the ones introduced in 2010, which they say were the most expansive in Metro's history.

A decision is expected early next year. Any rate hikes would take effect in July of 2012.