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Metro board OKs fare hikes, budget

Fare calculator | Implementing the increases | Fare changes

[This post has been updated: 4:30 p.m.]

Metro's board of directors tyson.gifapproved a sweeping package of fare increases Thursday, the most expansive in its history, as the agency seeks to close a $189 million gap in its 2011 budget.

The approval came as the board gave the go-ahead for its next budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The fare increases, which begin Sunday, will hit riders on all lines and services, including rail, bus and MetroAccess, the service for disabled riders. In May the board provided guidance to Metro staff that it would approve the plan. Staff had been worried that the agency was running out of time to implement the changes before the new fiscal year starts.

Board member Jim Graham, who serves on the D.C. council, cast the only dissenting vote, saying he was concerned about the impact of the fare hikes on the people least able to pay fare increases.

The change includes nearly $109 million worth of rail, bus and paratransit increases, which will be implemented in three stages: Sunday; Aug. 1; and in the fall.

Rail fares will increase about 18 percent overall, with the peak rail boarding fare going from $1.65 to $1.95. The bus boarding charge will go up 20 percent, from $1.25 to $1.50 for SmarTrip users and from $1.35 to $1.70 for cash customers.

The second phase, scheduled to begin Aug. 1, will involve only rail fares and will introduce a peak-of-the-peak surcharge of 20 cents that will be in effect for rail passengers boarding between 7:30 and 9 a.m. and between 4:30 and 6 p.m. At the same time, a 25-cent surcharge will become effective for customers who use paper farecards. Some rail passes will increase in price again because of the peak-of-the-peak change. The board also agreed to cut the price of SmarTrip cards from $5 to $2.50 because the cost of the cards have fallen and to encourage people to use them, said board Chairman Peter Benjamin.

In the fall, MetroAccess fares will increase again to twice the fixed-route fare, with a cap of $7.

The board at some point will also consider an additional 5-cent fare increase that would only apply to some stations. A board panel approved the idea this month as a way of funding improvements at individual stations. The catalyst for the idea was a $36 million plan to ease commuter congestion at Union Station, one of Metro's busiest hubs, according to Metro and District officials.

-- Ann Scott Tyson

By Michael Bolden  | June 24, 2010; 2:24 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories, Blue Line, Green Line, Metro, Metrobus, Orange Line, Red Line  
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Comments

So you increase fares for your most loyal riders during the peak of the peak times...Seems to me it should be raised for the midnight to 2am crowd, the ones who rarely ride, but stretch the budget at "non peak" times.

Posted by: RomulusBeatRemus | June 24, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

"Nah, nah, nah, nah. Nah, nah, nah, nah. Hey, hey, hey...Good bye!"

If Metro doesn't see ridership go down, I'll be surprised.

Posted by: akchild | June 24, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

BOHICA!

Posted by: thetan | June 24, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Beyond axing the 12 - 2 am service add Metro Access to the chopping block. I understand it plays a significant role in why Metro is overbudget. Chauffering people to Target strikes me as a real waist of money.

Posted by: patricelee | June 24, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Midnight to 2am riders can't afford a rate increase because they drank all their money.

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 24, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

How is it we continue to get fare hikes but the service continues to get worse? It seems every time they raise fares, it's during a time when they've screwed up royally i.e. when they had to get rid of the parking attendants because they stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in parking fees from the till. All Metro said was, "We understand that riders should not have to bear the cost for these mistakes but..." Now it's summertime and we're having another rate hike when lines are routinely breaking down, having to single track and offload, and it's 95 or so degrees outside with NO AIR CONDITIONING ON METRO. What other rapid transit system behaves like this?

Posted by: lentini1172 | June 24, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Did I mention that it's incomprehensible that one stretch of escalator could take 4-5 months to repair? I guess it makes sense when you only have crews working on them 1-2 days a week for about 30 minutes.

Posted by: lentini1172 | June 24, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

does it not dawn on metro that if they lowered their fares, MORE people would take Metro? isn't that the usual way businesses try and recruit new customers?

Posted by: DreamOutLoud | June 24, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

We don't have room for MORE people to take Metro. At least not at rush hour on most of the lines. The trains are packed beyond capacity as it is. So we don't need to lower the fare to lure more riders. In fact, its the opposite - I hope the fare increase does keep some people away, and create a little more breathing room.
Now at off-peak hours, you have a point - lowering fares, or at least not raising them, might make sense at the slow times of day.

Posted by: DaDuZi | June 24, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

It just dawned on me, Metro is increasing fares to pay for all those law suits filed as a result of the "deadliest accident in metro history", not to repair tracks, improve safety or improve service. While I definitely think the families of the victims should be compensated, I don't t believe it should be at the expense of loyal riders. In an economy with no raises in sight, this really stinks.

Posted by: Mom531 | June 24, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

This is just great, the service sucks, trains are hot, you have to wait forever in between trains and nothing ever works. Do you think that is going to change, NOT!!!!!! This will just encourage more people to drive and clog up the roads. METRO, I have no nice words for you!!!!

Posted by: djones9607 | June 24, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Metro is not considering the passengers at all. I and I am sure many passengers are on a budget. Public transportation is supposed to be inexpensive - not so expensive that people must choose to eat or go to work. I am on a budget. If I can figure a way to walk to work from Union Station - I will walk. Metro is only going to lose more passengers. This is no way to fill the gap in the budget. One needs to wonder about the people that sit on the board - obviously they don't earn less than $70,000, have a mortgage, home equity loan, bills and no budget for the essentials like clothing. I would like to know the passengers that wanted a rate hike - could it be their employers pay for them to commute or they earn more than $90,000 and have more than 1 person working and providing for the family? Not all passengers have that luxury. My transportation costs come from my paycheck. I am barely making ends meet as it is as a single person who lives alone and this is not going to help me at all. I pray for those that make less than I do. I really wonder what the metro board was thinking or if they even think at all. Have they added what it will cost to commute every day for a month if you have to park and go from Shady Grove to Glenmont daily or any of the other end points on the metro system not to mention if you have to transfer to a bus or another mode of transportation. Metro did not really look to see how they could fill the gap. They showed a total lack of knowledge about how the middle class and lower class actually live and what their budgets are. I really do pray for those that are just barely making it and now must decide between eating and going to work. I can not believe. I just can not believe metro did this. I wrote or tried to write metro saying how I was against this because it would put a hardship on me and my means to get to work. Thank you so very much Metro.

Posted by: Trixiegs | June 24, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Of course they approved the fare hike. This is DC.

Posted by: forgetthis | June 24, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

To patricelee - Metro Access does not chauffer my disabled adult son to Target - I do that. Metro Access safely takes him to work every day, and safely returns him home every evening. He works, he pays taxes, he pays his Metro Access fare, he is a full participant in the community where he lives.

Posted by: maggieerzen | June 24, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

All Metro knows is that they screwed up and their auditors have told them they need to raise more money to make up for a neverending list of shortcomings. It's like a black hole. Good money after bad goes in but until you get dedicated sources of funding and a management team that is actually responsible and holds their own accountable, then I hold little hope for the system and I think we'll all be making the same comments the next time as soon as the next fare hike comes, which likely won't be that far off.

Posted by: lentini1172 | June 24, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Mom531, I'm pretty sure Metro carries insurance which is paying for those claims. However, considering the leadership hasn't demonstrated any intelligence thus far, I wouldn't be surprised if they let the policy lapse at the wrong time either.

Posted by: forgetthis | June 24, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

There was never any doubt that the fare hikes would be approved. They already have signs everywhere about fares going up. The service has been even more horrible lately. Almost every afternoon in the past week I have gotten on orange line trains with little or no air conditioning. And I will never understand why, on a lot of mornings there are 3 Vienna trains to 1 New Carrollton train when the NC trains are packed and the Vienna trains are practically empty. Since Metro keeps raising fares they really need to get it together.

Posted by: ctree | June 24, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

As I said this morning, riders you do have a voice. Stop whinning and let's do something about Metro fare hikes. The more we just go along with this mess, the higher the prices will get. Metro is not interested in you as a rider or an individual; they are interested in your pockets and how far they can reach in and take what you have. It's time to protest and boycott this hell-hole. Beginning Mon., June 28th, stop riding Metro for at least 2 days and let's see what happenns.

Posted by: daughterofold | June 24, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

if every train was an 8 car train, there would be no overcrowding issues. i take the red line and it's often very busy in the morning but never brutal. but whenever you see a string of 6 car trains, THAT'S when you see overcrowding...especially in the afternoon. it wouldn't kill you to have 8 car trains.

Posted by: DreamOutLoud | June 24, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

MetroAccess is an overpriced taxi service. It costs $100 for them to transport a rider and the rider pays $2.50.

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 24, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

The last time Metro had a fare increase we were promised much better service and fewer maintenance problems. Didn't happen. Got much worse, in fact.

Now, we are faced with the biggest fare increase in Metro's history. Will service and maintenance problems improve? If history is any indication the answer is a resounding NO.

When I started riding Metro 11 years ago, it too me 1 hour and 10 minutes door to door. Now, the EXACT same trip takes me 1 hour and 30 minutes and NOTHING has changed -- except it costs MUCH MUCH more.

Does this seem right?

Posted by: donjohnson1 | June 24, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Why is it so rare nowadays to see a train with 8 cars?

You would think that metro could save money and decrease the over crowding by running 8 cars at a time instead of only 6 cars. You could increase capacity by 33% just by adding 2 more cars.

Posted by: abryant15 | June 24, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

You can ride anywhere in the Boston metro system for $2. Anywhere on the system! Just $2! Similar situation in Atlanta. Chicago's and New York's subway systems are much less expensive than DCs.

I know we are still paying for building the system, but this is crazy. CRAZY.

Posted by: donjohnson1 | June 24, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I would be less annoyed about this if Metro service quality hadn't been so unbearably awful lately. The escalator at my stop has been having repairs since March, and the tag that used to say "June 2010" was mysteriously removed, and nothing put up to replace it. There are invariably enormous lines just to get off the platform. And in this heat, when all people want to do is get home? Eugh.

"Peak of the peak" fairs are also an unfair burden. Taking the metro during rush hours is cramped and uncomfortable, and now we have to pay more for the privilege?

Posted by: Andeleisha | June 24, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

@seraphina21: #fail reading much?

Posted by: Moonwolf | June 24, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

GOODBYE 5A Bus!! I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT THEY DOUBLED THE FARE while everyone else pays 20% more !!!

Posted by: tempo341 | June 24, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Has a nice symmetry with their historic safety decrease.

Posted by: zippyspeed | June 24, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Today and tomorrow I am driving into work from NOVA. May have taken me an extra 15 minutes but I think I'm going to say GOOD BYE METRO - You are no longer allowed to mooch off of me!

Posted by: amr2 | June 24, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

As suggested by daughterofold I will not ride Metro for a couple of days, starting, 6/28. In addition, I believe I'm going to start a car pool with my daughter and forget Metro all together. It's too expensive and the service is piss poor. I utilize Union Station and adding a surcharge is a little too much. It's less expensive for me to pay for parking in D.C. and gas than ride Metro. Unbelievable!

Posted by: dchesley | June 24, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

This rate hike underscores the fact that metro riders are providing services for which they are not being paid while car users are creating costs that they are not having to pay. Riding metro reduces congestion, pollution, traffic enforcement, and medical costs, it reduces the need for new and expanded roads. Driving a car increases all of those things and their associated costs. By not recognizing and monetizing the services that metro riders provide and costs that car drivers create metro riders are artificially burdened with the cash costs of the metro system, while car drivers are artificially freed from the real costs of their driving. What is need is a way to compensate metro riders for their services from the car drivers who benefit from these services. The easiest and most direct method of compensation that I can think of would be surcharge on gasoline in the area served by metro that would be used help cover the costs of safety, maintenance, and improvement of the metro system while keeping cash fares low. This would simply reflect the real costs and benefits of each selected mode of transport. This would also create a virtuous cycle of increasing ridership through lower fares and improved service, further reducing congestion, pollution, traffic fatalities, enforcement costs, etc.

Posted by: DavidWilliamson1 | June 24, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

privatize it

Posted by: jww2 | June 24, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

hopefully they will use some of the money for a once a decade cleaning of the cars. as it is, metro smells like a goat that was raised inside of a fart chamber

Posted by: selkie2 | June 24, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

@donjohnson1: I'm from DC but now in Boston. I agree, the rates here are really great, but the T is completely broke.

The theory others here are presenting about if they'd lower the fares, more people would ride, then there'd be more funding, isn't reflected in Boston.

Every other week there's an article or controversy about safety, reliability, etc. The system is outdated and falling apart.

I don't think lower fares are the solution.

Posted by: GigiDC | June 24, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

A dead goat.

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 24, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

It used to be that the commuters would receive a discount to ride metro. Now we're being penalized with a peak of the peak fare just because we have to go to work everyday. Totally not fair. If the trains were reliable and there wasn't so many problems, I could see it. But how our fares are so much higher than other cities, i.e. New York City, it's ridiculous. NYC Subway cost $2 regardless of the distance. Years of mismanagement and pilfering has lead to this and now we the riders, must suffer. Metro has to be overhauled and managed correctly. They
clearly can't do it themselves. Not to mention some of the lazy people that work for metro. Let's get rid of the dead weight and get the system fixed. It's hard to justify an increase when service has decreased so significantly.

Posted by: MDFoodie1 | June 24, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

What has Metro done to control costs, such as freezing salaries? Metro employees should also feel the pinch. Many of them are well compensated.

Posted by: bayou_girl | June 24, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I for one say raise fares more!

I would pay double fare for a well air conditioned business class car. Maybe they have free Fuji water or something. Oh and a security guard too. I would laugh at all the smelly people in the poor cars behind me. "HA, HA! Look at them sweat dear! Poor bastards!"

Posted by: dedlinetosilverspring | June 24, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

We Americans have made whining into an art form. And most whiners just don't know (think about) the issues. They are just knee jerk professionals wanting almost everything for nothing.

Posted by: elwoll | June 24, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I gave up riding Metro last autumn after one too many asthma attacks. With the overcrowding and lack of a/c, the system is dangerous for someone with breathing issues. And using your inhaler runs the risk of a ticket.

I drive now to the office. It is less expensive, takes fifteen minutes rather than an hour, ten minutes, and has glorious air via my car. Plus no overcrowding or risk of an asthma attack, especially in weather like today.

Posted by: DeLaHelias | June 24, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

"And using your inhaler runs the risk of a ticket."

How does using a medical device put you at the risk of a ticket?

Posted by: ceebee2 | June 24, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: jww2-- privatize it

Used the Greenway lately? That's what privatizing gets you--it's a road for the rich.

I prefer not to use Metro when I do go into DC--the problems are too random. Not willing to risk it.

Posted by: loco71 | June 24, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

www.wmata.com/about_metro/docs/approved_2010_budget.pdf

Go to pdf page 65 of the budget, and look at the increase in labor costs for the past 3 years.

Posted by: markjones999999 | June 25, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Many thanks to markjones9999999 for posting the link to the metro budget (www.wmata.com/about_metro/docs/approved_2010_budget.pdf). Nothing is more damning than the truth, and these numbers are metro's own.

Since 2007, labor costs have gone up just under 16%, and "total fringes" (i.e. benefits) have gone up almost 24%. And this is during the worst economic times since the Great Depression. Look at the pie chart on page 62 - "personnel" make up about 2/3 of the total budget. What does this mean? It means that most of those fare increases are going straight into the pockets of those idiots who run this sorry excuse of a public tranportation system.

I'm one of those fuzzy-brained idealists who believes that, in theory, public transportation is a great idea and a public good. Unfortunately for me, I'm also one of the poor saps who lives in the suburbs and works downtown and does not have free parking, making me a hostage to the utter ineptitude of wmata. The idea of raising rates for what would be politely called "lousy service" is outrageous enough. The fact that it is mostly going into the pockets of those who are obviously accountable to absolutely nobody is utterly infuriating.

I encourage everyone to let wmata know what you think of their service - slow trains, no trains, crowded trains, hot trains, stairs that used to be escalators. Here is a link to their complaint page: http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/contact_us/ridercomment.cfm. Bookmark it in your browser, because you will be using it almost every day.

Posted by: MyPostID27 | June 25, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

What misguided faith in customer complaints. Metro is an unaccountable quasi government (government enough that they are untouchable, private enough that you can't replace their leadership). No doubt rider comments go directly into the trash.

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 25, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

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