Metro board agrees to major fare hike
10:20 p.m. Update: A full story should be posted soon, but other features of the increases:
-- Increase reserved parking to $65 from $55
-- Increase bicycle locker fee to $200 from $70
-- Decrease the rail-to-bus transfer time from two hours to three hours.
Rail riders who use paper fare cards will also pay more than SmarTrip users, by as much as 25 cents a trip, a move designed to encourage use of the plastic cards.
5:30 p.m. Update: The bus boarding charge will go up 20 percent, from $1.25 to $1.50.
5:08 p.m. Update: Metro expects to put out a release with all of the details within the hour. Some of their early materials still don't have the correct information.
However, Ann Scott Tyson reports that the value of the entire fare hike package is $108.71 million, which will go toward closing the $189 million deficit in the 2011 operating budget.
The peak rail boarding fare will increase ffrom $1.65 to $1.95. This is higher than the $1.90 that had been previously considered. Also, the agency plans to implement a "peak of the peak" charge, which would increase fares another 20 cents during the busiest times.
5 p.m. Update We're still assembling the latest details on the specifics of the plan, which have changed somewhat from previous reports.
4:20 p.m. Update: The board deferred a final decision on the budget for the next fiscal yer until a meeting June 24. However, that fiscal year begins July 1 and Metro staff had been pressuring the board to reach a decision because any fare increase would take time to implement, including creating new signage and programming systems. The board voted unanimously to provide that guidance.
4:11 p.m. Update: Metro's Board of Directors agreed Thursday on a major fare hike but also decided to eliminate any service cuts from its operating budget for the fiscal year that starts on July 1.
4:10 p.m. Update: The board is back. We've received word that some sort of agreement has been reached.
3:30 p.m. Update: The board is still not back 90 minutes after they were expected to resume the meeting.
Correction: The board is still at lunch.
Original post: Metro's chief financial officer Carol Kissal said she is hopeful that Metro's board of directors will vote Thursday to approve the transit agency's budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, including a major fare increase.
The board broke for lunch after discussing several items this morning but resumed shortly after 2 p.m.
Kissal and board members said the board seems to be near an agreement on about $97 million worth of fare hikes, as well as scaling back any service cuts.
Disagreements remain over the balance between increasing jurisdictional contributions and borrowing capital dollars to fill Metro's $189 million budget gap for fiscal 2011.
Staff members have expressed concern about implementing any changes by July 1, the beginning of the next fiscal year for Metro. The agency also hopes to capture revenue from any fare increase during the busy Fourth of July weekend.
-- Ann Scott Tyson
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