Metro fare increase proposal coming Monday

Photo: Jay Westcott

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Metro fares could be going up again in the not-too-distant future after the agency heard a proposal to hike rates on both buses and trains Monday.

Under the proposal, bus and train commuters would pay an average of 3 percent more in fare, but some riders would see a substantially higher hike.

As first reported by the Post,{ } any approved fare increase would be WMATA's first since July of 2012. That hike included increases of 5 to 7 percent for peak rail trips and even higher ones for off-peak rides.

The agency is trying to sell the increase as minimal because the average is at or below the rate of inflation. The increase proposal is listed in the agency's budget for Fiscal Year 2015, which is posted to WMATA's website.

In a report released in mid-October, WMATA officials said that they were considering proposing the increase, which would increase the average Metrorail trip fare by about 3 percent. The larger hike would come on bus trips though, which would go up to $1.75 across the board.

The proposal would eliminate the current cash surcharge on Metrobus trips, which sets the current fare at $1.60 for SmarTrip users and $1.80 for cash fares. Under the proposal, the fare would become $1.75 for everyone on all local bus trips.

Metro GM Richard Sarles told the Post that the proposed hikes are "very modest" and "necessary" considering the capital improvements being made to the system, which include the new Silver line, new rail cars and improved lighting within Metro stations.

While some riders say that the fare increases come with the territory of improvements that are necessary to the system, many want to know where the money they're currently paying is going.

"Even a couple months after they put in new escalators, they still break down," commuter Derek Ramden said. "I think they need some kind of budget responsibility."

Parking at Metro stations will likely go up as well under the proposal. Parking currently costs up to $5 per day at some stations, and it would go up by about 25 cents.

The total added cost has some commuters wondering if taking Metro is still cost-conscious at all.

"By the time you add the parking fees to the coming and going fees and the bus ride, it almost makes more sense to drive," commuter Todd Goenings said.