Metro seeking fare hikes, more taxpayer money

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Local,Capital Land,Transportation,Kytja Weir

Metro riders and taxpayers will be asked to pay more starting this summer, under a proposal the agency is presenting to its board of directors this week.

Riders would pay more on nearly all fronts, with fares rising for SmarTrip users from a base peak fare of $1.95 to $2.10. Bus riders using the plastic farecards would pay a dime extra. Parking would cost 25 cents more.

The biggest hit, though, would be to riders who use paper farecards. Instead of paying the current 25-cent surcharge for their rail trips on top of normal fares, they would pay a $6 flat fare during peak times and $4 per one-way trip at all other times. Tourists  especially would bear the brunt because the $9 all-day pass would be eliminated.

Meanwhile, taxpayers will be asked to pay more, too. Metro is asking local jurisdictions for more than $50 million extra in subsidies.

General Manager Richard Sarles is seeking the fare increases for a $2.6 billion budget that would take effect July 1, as first reported by The Washington Post. Most of that, $1.6 billion, covers operating costs, while $996.8 million covers capital costs for buying buses and fixing tracks.

With that money, the agency plans to add 1,013 more positions, to bring the headcount to more than 12,000 workers.

The proposal is Sarles' first pass at the budget. The board of directors will evaluate it in coming months. The public also will have a chance to weigh in, with public hearings slated probably for February or early March.

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Kytja Weir

Staff Writer - Transportation
The Washington Examiner