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Metro board agrees to major fare hike

Listen | Metro budget proposal (PDF) | Latest story

Other actions today: Metro to buy new rail cars | Metro okays ad contract | Metro to finish fixing railcar doors | Metro honors police

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

By Michael Bolden  |  May 27, 2010; 5:45 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Damn the little guy, they need to finish their lunch at the Palm.

What a joke.

Posted by: jiji1 | May 27, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Heaven forbid the order in and have a working lunch....

Posted by: thetan | May 27, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Ridiculous! They can't keep putting off this decision.

Some people, you know, actually pay for the (dis)service they receive from metro each day.

Posted by: jiji1 | May 27, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Well, you told us about the major fare hike but you didn't tell us how much of a fare hike.

Posted by: JoStalin | May 27, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Did they decide on what the fare hike would be? Or just that there will be one? People with transit benefits can't wait another month to here the actual amounts, we need 2 months notice to update our benefits...

Posted by: bmp246 | May 27, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

must be nice to have transit benefits...

Posted by: nativetexan2 | May 27, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

yes it is

Posted by: bmp246 | May 27, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Are we supposed to divide the $97 million into the number of Metro riders to figure out what our fare increase will be? It takes a month to make pre-tax adjustments to our Smartbenefits. Instead of bending us over all at once, why don't they do scheduled, periodic fare increases??

Posted by: bkbishop | May 27, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

It will now be almost as cheap for my girlfriend and I to drive in to DC and park as it is to take the metro both ways. I can now look forward to next year when it will actually be cheaper after the next round of fare hikes, and I can abandon metro altogether.

Posted by: wmsheppa | May 27, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

20 cents? Wimps.

Posted by: seraphina21 | May 27, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: bmp246 | May 27, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Wake me up when I can take Metro from, say, Leesburg to Chantilly... or from Woodbridge to Reston... or from Alexandria to Manassas... or from anywhere that isn't DC to anywhere else that isn't DC.

The system has not grown with the region, and for a huge percentage of area residents it simply doesn't serve us at all. Metro needed to be to Dulles in 1985, to Leesburg, Manassas, and Woodbridge by 1995, and beyond that by 2005.

Even when I lived in Fairfax and commuted to Alexandria, both served by Metro, it was BOTH cheaper AND faster to even for the tiny percentage of the region it serves, it doesn't serve well.

And that's not even talking about reliability.

At this point the system is hardly worth what it costs in either tax money or fares... privatize or shut it down and start over with express buses and light rail.

Posted by: scott_bradford | May 27, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

From their website:

"The [peak of the peak] surcharge will encourage customers to exercise flexibility when choosing the times they ride the Metrorail system and help alleviate crowding during busy weekday rush hours."

Yes, because everyone has flexibility in when they get to work, or get downtown for a meeting. Morons.

Posted by: reiflame1 | May 27, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it sucks they're raising fares. Yes, it sucks Metro doesn't go to Outer Slovakia. But I don't have any problem with the "peak of the peak" surcharge for this reason: most of those workers are government workers, whose subway tab is entirely picked up by Uncle Sam. They never actually pay out of pocket for their fare. So why not tap them a little heavier?

I await the response from the GS 1 and a-half nation...

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | May 27, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh Gosh...its like the gushing Gulf spill..the fares are going up and up..but no site of reduction..Bloated bureaucracy at metro has to go..If the design is so poor and they cannot keep the fares low..why are they even planning to have the same bloated and unsuccessful METRO Organization to design & run Silver Line to DULLES..I guess it would more expensive to use the Dulles metro then actually traveling on plane. PLEASE STOP...THE WASTE...I GUESS its high time, they privatize the entire metro railways like the airlines or make the metropolitan airports authority take care of all the DC metro.

Posted by: kallims | May 27, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

Line of the century to describe Metro, its board and its workers:

Correction: The board is still at lunch.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | May 27, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

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