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Metro talks fare increase
Metro riders may see a cost increase of up to 60 cents in the coming year as the mass transit system struggles to deal with a $48 billion budget shortfall and decreased ridership.
Metro Chief Executive Richard White called for an increase in rail fare in the wake of the sluggish economy, lower ridership and a post-September 11 insurance rate increase.
“This is the first time in eight years that Metro has proposed a change in its fare structure, and we hope our customers understand why this is necessary,” White said in a statement. “We appreciate their continued use of Metro, and in the next few months we look forward to hearing their input on this important issue.”
The proposed increase includes a raise of 30 cents for most fares during peak riding times and up to 60-cent increase for longer trips. In 1991 the base fare for the Metro was 85 cents, which increased to $1.10 in 1995.
Raising fares is a delicate balancing act for Metro officials. The Washington Post reported that for every 10-percent fare increase, ridership decreases 0.36 percent.
“Today’s proposal represents a measured, balanced approach,” said Richard Stevens, Metro director of business and planning, in a statement. “Many other transit agencies are proposing fare increases in these challenging economic times. What’s important to note, however, is that we are not proposing any service reductions, as ridership for all services continues to run slightly above last year.”
Public hearings will be held in the spring on the fare increase proposals.

Anti-war protests to hit District
Organizers are expecting hundreds of thousands of protesters for a planned demonstration against war in Iraq and other issues on Saturday, Jan. 18.
Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark has called the demonstration the last chance to avoid a war with the Middle Eastern nation.
The event will be held on the west side of the Capitol building at 11 a.m., to be followed by a march to the Navy Yard, where demonstrators plan to ask to inspect any weapons of mass destruction the United States possesses.
-Alex Kingsbury

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