Students returning to campus this fall may get an unwelcome surprise when they board a train. Passengers began paying at least 15 cents extra for each Metro trip on June 27 after the city’s new price hikes took effect.
The city raised the base fare from $1.20 to $1.35. The maximum peak rail fare, which is charged for long distance trips between the District and Maryland or Virginia, went up by 30 cents to $3.90, and local bus fare was raised by five cents to $1.25.
The transportation service has also halved the length of Metro trains that run after 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.
Metro officials implemented the fare increases to cover a $23.4 million projected budget deficit brought on by increased operating costs. They attributed those rising costs to unexpectedly heavy use of the Metro access program, which serves disabled and elderly passengers, and rising insurance rates following the March Madrid subway bombings.
Some Metro riders said they do not mind the fare increases because they are pleased with the service.
“They do a good job, so I don’t mind too much paying a little more,” Foggy Bottom resident Eric Woodard said.
Others are not so indifferent about the price increase, complaining that the new fares come too soon after Metro officials hiked fares last year. “They just increased fares a short time ago,” District resident John Williams said.
In a press release, the Metro’s board of directors announced the “strong possibility of another increase” in the near future. Williams, like thousands of city residents, relies on Metro to get to work each day and has seen his expenses rise significantly in the last few years.
“I would prefer to drive, but I just have to deal with it because the Metro is my only mode of transportation right now,” he said.
Metro officials said they expect some shifts in system usage as a result of the hikes but no major disruptions.
This article appeared in the July 6, 2004 issue of the Hatchet.