Metro to raise fares across system on Sunday

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Local,Transportation,Kytja Weir

It's the second fare hike since 2010, which the transit agency said it needs to balance its $1.6 billion operating budget that starts July 1.

Bus riders will pay a dime more, while those who park will shell out a quarter extra. Rail riders face a more confusing calculus.

Metro says train riders can expect about a 5 percent increase, but the changes will vary widely depending on when and how far they travel.

How will your fare change?
RAIL
Peak: Now: $1.95-$5.20. Starting Monday: $2.10-$5.75.
Off-peak: Now: $1.60-$2.75. Starting Sunday: $1.70-$3.50.
• Metro will get rid of the 20-cent "peak-of-the-peak" surcharge.
• Riders using paper farecards will pay $1 extra per one-way trip.
BUS
SmarTrip: Now: $1.50. Starting Sunday: $1.60.
Cash: Now: $1.70. Starting Sunday: $1.80.
Some local bus agencies -- Montgomery County's Ride On, Fairfax County's Fairfax Connector and Fairfax City's CUE buses -- will raise fares at the same time. But Arlington's ART and Prince George's County will not raise fares then.
PARKING
Will rise 25 cents at all lots, which now cost $3.25-4.75.
Planning your trip
To determine how your fares will change, visit Metro's online trip planner at wmata.com/rider_tools/tripplanner and plug in a date after July 1.
Here are how some sample fares change:
Route 6 a.m. peak 8 a.m. peak of the peak  8 p.m. off-peak 
  Now Starting Monday Now Starting Monday Now Starting Sunday  
Anacostia-L'Enfant Plaza $1.95 $2.10 $2.15 $2.10 $1.60 $1.70  
Fares change -2 to 8 percent
Bethesda-Farragut North $2.95 $3.15 $3.15 $3.15 $1.60 $2.05
Fares change zero to 28 percent
Vienna-Rosslyn $4.30 $4.60 $4.50 $4.60 $2.75 $3.50
Fares rise 2 to 27 percent
Greenbelt-Crystal City $5 $5.60 $5.20 $5.60 $2.75 $3.50
Fares rise 8 percent to 27 percent
Shady Grove-Foggy Bottom $5 $5.75 $5.20 $5.75 $2.75 $3.50
Fares rise 11 percent to 27 percent

The increases hit hardest those who ride the longest distances and those who ride during off-peak hours, with some seeing 28 percent increases over what they now pay. A rider going from Glenmont to the Pentagon station could pay as much as $16.50 each day to park and commute, a 9 percent increase from the current maximum of $15.15. When traveling off-peak, that rider's trip would cost 28 percent more than it does now.

In one piece of good news, Metro will scrap the 20-cent "peak-of-the-peak" surcharge that it levies during the busiest 90 minutes of the morning and evening rush. The transit agency said the surcharge hasn't shifted riders' behavior enough since it started in 2010 and further complicated an already complex fare structure.

That means those who take short trips during the peak-of-the-peak periods could see their fares stay steady or even drop. A rider who goes from Capitol South to Farragut West will see fares drop from $2.15 to $2.10 during the peak-of-the-peak window. But that rider will see up to a 15-cent jump at other times of day, meaning up to 7.6 percent increases.

MetroAccess riders, meanwhile, will be paying the fare hikes twice, in essence, as their trips cost twice a comparable bus or train trip, up to a maximum of $7 per trip.

Metro will charge $1 per each trip for those using paper farecards, a big incentive for riders to switch to the $5 plastic SmarTrip cards if they plan on taking multiple rail trips.

One woman shook her head as she read a notice about the increases in the McPherson station. She hadn't figured out how much her daily fare would rise. But she said she's considering driving. At least that way, she said, she wouldn't have to be packed on crowded trains and platforms and could listen to classical music.

But others are willing to pay the cost in the absence of better alternatives.

"It's the cost of living. You have to pay it. I'd rather do that than drive," said Glen Russel. "It would take a lot to get me back in a car. Driving in D.C. during rush hour is stupid when there's public transportation available. You don't have to worry about parking and sitting in traffic."

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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Kytja Weir

Staff Writer - Transportation
The Washington Examiner