Metro riders to weigh in on proposed fare hikes

The minimum fare now, $1.70, would rise to $2.10. The maximum fare from $5.20 up to $5.75.

In a packed room in Bethesda Monday night, irate Metro customers aired their concerns about proposed fare increases at a public hearing

The hearing was held at the Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center and was the first of several that will continue through March 6.

"Government subsidized transit service it not for profit," said rider Ed Gitterman.

Metro officials say in order to rebuild and maintain a struggling transit system and close a $116 million budget hole, riders will likely see rate hikes beginning in July.

Under the proposal,{ }the minimum fare now, $1.70, would rise to $2.10. The maximum fare from $5.20 up to $5.75.

Smart trip train riders could pay anywhere from 10 cents to a dollar more a ride. Those using paper fare cards would pay up to six dollars each way.

Bus fares will go up ten to 30 cents.

"I'm a senior, I'm a senior," said District resident Ethel Vinston. "Where will we get the money from? If they keep going up on the fares, where will we get the money from?"

Metro expects to hear an earful from frustrated riders.

"It's hindering a lot of people, that [are] really trying to work or got jobs in D.C. and live in Virginia," said Gaskins, an Arlington resident. "It's not worth it."

Riders say while the fares continue to climb, the quality of service has steadily declined.

"They started charging more as the service got worst. Before, a lot of people weren't complaining about Metro, but now its coming out," said District resident James Parker.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel stressed that better isn't free.

"It is important that we invest in the system so that we don't end up in the place we are right now, ever again," Stessel said.

Future hearings will take place at the following locations:

Wednesday, Feb. 29
Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School Cafeteria – Hearing 570
7130 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA

Thursday, March 1
Matthews Memorial Baptist Church – Hearing 571
John H. Kearney, Sr. Fellowship Hall
2616 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., SE
Washington, DC

Monday, March 5
Washington Lee High School Cafeteria – Hearing 572
1301 N Stafford St
Arlington, VA

Tuesday, March 6
St. Columba’s Episcopal Church – Hearing 573
4201 Albemarle Street, NW
Washington, DC

Wednesday, March 7
First United Methodist Church – Hearing 574
6201 Belcrest Road
Hyattsville, MD