City proposes Metro fee increase

Students may be paying more money to ride the Metro starting in July to cover the service’s large budget shortfall.

The city has proposed fare increases, including raising the base price from $1.20 to $1.35, to close the gap on an approximately $30 million Metro deficit. Riders commuting between destinations in D.C. usually pay the base price.

The maximum peak fare, typically charged to Metro users traveling to or from Maryland and Virginia, would increase from $3.60 to $4.05, and the bus transfer voucher would increase by 15 cents to $1.

Lisa Farbstein, a Washington Metro and Transit Authority public affairs officer, said city officials are considering raising fares to make up for increasing employee health care and insurance costs.

She also attributed the shortfall to costs associated with providing transportation to wheelchair users. The city pays up to $35 per trip to transport disabled passengers, who only pay $2.40.

The increase will be discussed at a series of public meetings scheduled for March.

Some city officials said the hike would be a burden to poorer Metro users who were hit hard by a 10 to 20 cent fare increase implemented by the District last July.

Jim Graham, a D.C. City Councilman and Metro board member, said increasing bus fares would adversely affect people whose sole means of getting around the city is public transportation.

“I can not support the increase in the bus fares,” said Graham, who noted that he was the only Metro board member to vote against last year’s increases. “A lot of bus riders board the bus with their family.”

The District is also proposing regular meetings to review fares and the implementation of an index that would make increases more predictable. Metro officials are also considering creating more advertising space to generate extra revenue.

Some Metro users said escalating transportation prices have made using city buses and trains costly.

“It’s hard enough getting a job out here,” said Samuel Ronald Tilley, who takes the Metro from his Northeast D.C. residence to the State Department every weekday.

Some GW commuter students and other area residents said the Metro is the only practical way to travel into the District and that they would adjust to price increases.

“I don’t like it but I don’t have a choice,” said sophomore Johanne Sajons, who travels to GW from her suburban Virginia home.

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