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Metro Invites Public to Forums

Within the next six months, we're going to be talking seriously about a Metro fare increase or service cutbacks. The least likely thing, so far, is that the local governments that finance Metro will step in to cover an impending budget shortfall of more than $100 million.

This year, we escaped without a fare increase or major service reductions, but the Metro board did that by cutting the transit authority staff, using some financial fixes available only once and raising revenue projections. At the time, board members predicted Metro -- and its riders -- would be in a tough spot during the next budget round. Which is now.

The Metro board members and managers are going to start talking directly with the public about all this, starting Monday. So far, two forums have been announced.
These aren't the budget hearings. Those come in the spring. We won't have a budget proposal to pick apart for several months.

Metro has scheduled a forum for District residents at 6:30 p.m. in the U.S. Navy Memorial auditorium, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. (That's by the Archives Metrorail station.)

Metro Board Chairman Jim Graham, General Manager John B. Catoe Jr., and D.C. officials will discuss Metro's budget for the fiscal year that starts in July 2010.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission and Metro will host a forum at 6:20 p.m. Wednesday at George Mason High School, 7124 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church. NVTC Chairman and Metro Board Member Chris Zimmerman of Arlington and Board Member Catherine Hudgins of Fairfax will be joined by other Northern Virginia leaders.

As with the D.C. session, Catoe will outline Metro's money needs and some possible solutions. Then there will be a discussion.

By Robert Thomson  |  October 15, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metro budget, Metrobus, Metrorail  
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I'm really curious as to what the average fare-per-trip is in DC, and if they wouldn't just be better off going the route NYC or Boston do and charging, say, a flat $2.50 per swipe no matter where you're going. Do the odd $3.45 commutes like mine really offset the seemingly more normal $1.85 commutes so much?

Posted by: EtoilePB | October 15, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: EtoilePB, I remember Metro staffers talking about this concept during the last round of fare hike hearings. I think the flat fare would have been something like $2.50 at that point. Probably a bit higher now.

It wasn't floated seriously last time, and it's very unlikely you'll hear any official proposing it now. It's guaranteed to spark city-suburb warfare at a time when Metro leaders will be hoping to unite the region in support of higher subsidies for the transit system.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | October 15, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

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