Metro Board Cool to Fare Increase
Metro officials presented a budget proposal for next year to the transit authority board this afternoon, then listened as board member after board member stomped hard on the idea of a fare increase.
Collectively, the board members placed the fare increases and service cutbacks at the bottom of the pile of ideas for closing Metro's $116 million gap in the budget that will take effect in July.
Jim Graham, the D.C. council member who chairs Metro's budget committee, arrived with a prepared statement that opened with "I will be unable to support any fare increase, or any change in fare policy that results in a fare increase, until I am satisfied that we have as a board done all we could to insure that every possible step was taken to address the shortfall by other means."
As board member after board member weighed in, it was clear that Graham's position had widespread support on the board. So distressed were they that the fare increase part of the budget proposal might be construed as a runaway train that they took pains to point out that this is just the beginning of the very lengthy process of approving a budget.
Jack Requa, Metro's acting general manager, had begun his presentation to the board by saying "this budget will be built over the next six months with much input from our customers and the contributing jurisdictions and the board."
Yet the board members took pains to make sure everyone in the region would get that message by repeating it.
Every jurisdiction that's part of the Metro board was heard from. Board member Chris Zimmerman, who also serves on the Arlington County Board, also criticized the proposed cutbacks in bus service. Dana Kauffman, a board member who also is a Fairfax County supervisor, said he was particularly pained by the bus cutbacks proposed for his jurisdiction.
We're a long way from done on all this. There will be plenty more meetings and plenty of public hearings before the board adopts a budget the spring.
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