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Happy About Fare Increases?

Couldn't blame Metro board members if they thought so, based on the turnout at last night's hearing in Reston on the fare and fee increases that could take effect in January.

The hearing was in Reston. (See Lena Sun's story in today's Post.) I had expected to hear many questions about service on suburban bus routes and the Orange Line, along with complaints about the combined impact of increasing parking fees and train fares for long-distance riders.

In fact, there was articulate, reasonable and specific testimony on those topics. The problem was that only a handful of people were there to voice it. The burden of speaking for hundreds of thousands of transit riders fell to Cali Ence of Vienna, Peg Owens of Upton, Ray Rowley of Lorton and a couple of other local residents who commute by train and bus.

The session started at 7 p.m. with a brief presentation by Metro General Manager John B. Catoe and was over at 7:31. We wound up hearing as much about why the increases are needed as about why they should be reconsidered.

Maybe tonight's sessions will be better attended. Those hearings both start at 7 p.m. They are at Metro headquarters in the Jackson Graham Building, 600 Fifth St. NW, and at the Montgomery County Council Building, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville. Both can be reached by Metrorail.

That was not the case last night, and several people, including Peg Owens, said that could have contributed to the low turnout. The hearing was held at the Bechtel Conference Center, 1801 Alexander Bell Drive. Still, it's just off Sunrise Valley Drive and near the Dulles Toll Road and Hunter Mill Road. Not a remote location.

And you can find it on both Google Maps and Mapquest, despite the experience of one person at the session. Most of the people signed up to speak at this particular hearing did testify. (Thirteen names were read off before the 14th, Cali Ence, rose to give her three minutes of testimony, but the first 13 had signed up to speak at all the hearings.)

After tonight's two sessions, the final three hearings are scheduled for 7 p.m. tomorrow at St. Luke's Center, 4923 East Capitol St. SE; Arlington County Government Building, Room 307, #1 Courthouse Plaza, 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Arlington; and the Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex, Town Hall Room, 8001 Sheriff Road, Landover.

By Robert Thomson  |  November 14, 2007; 7:01 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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