Metro rail and bus fares, parking fees set to increase July 1

(WJLA) - Starting soon, to get on board Metro, you're going to have to shell out a bit more cash.

It shouldn't come as a surprise - the Metro board has been kicking around a roster of fare increases for months.

Today, that board voted to make those increases official.

The new rates will go into effect July 1.

Officials say Metrorail fares will go up an average of three-percent, as follows:

• Short trips of 3 miles or less will increase from $1.70 to $1.75 during off-peak hours and from $2.10 to $2.15 during rush hour.

• The maximum rail fare will increase to $5.90, from the current $5.75.

• A $1 surcharge will continue to be applied for trips taken with a paper farecard.

Passes will increase to the following prices:

• Unlimited one-day pass: $14.50

• Unlimited 7-day pass: $59.25

• Unlimited 28-day pass: $237.00

• 7-day "short trip" pass: $36.00

Metrobus rates will be as follows:

• Regular bus fares will become $1.75, regardless of whether using cash or SmarTrip. Today, fares are $1.60 for SmarTrip and $1.80 cash.

• Senior/disabled fares will increase to 85 cents, from 80 cents today.

• There are no changes to existing transfer discounts.

• The 7-Day regional bus pass will increase to $17.50, from $16.00 today.

MetroAccess fares will be as follows:

• MetroAccess fares will continue to be two-times the fastest rail or bus trip.

• The maximum MetroAccess fare will be lowered from the current rate of $7 to $6.50.

Fares aren't the only fees going up - so will parking prices.

Parking rates at Metro garages will go up 10 cents across the board, except in some parts of Prince George's County, where they were previously lower than other areas. At select Prince George's County lots, parking will increase by an additional 50 cents, for a total increase of 60 cents.

Naturally, regular commuters aren't happy about the coming rate hikes.

"It comes as a shock. I'm not happy about it," said frequent rider Frank Gilbert on Thursday.

Others said, if it helps improve service, they can live with 15 cents more.

"I am mostly concerned about good Metro service - that is my biggest concern," said MetroBus rider Mark Davis. "Fifteen cents is is minor, really - what I would want is an explanation why they chose to make it less for cash?"

"There's always hope," said commuter Sharon Black.

Richard Sarles, general manager of Metrorail, maintains the increases are necessary to upgrade a crumbling, decayed, and at times unreliable, system.

"[The increases] will allow officials to continue to work on improving safety and reliability," Sarles said Thursday.