(Courtesy photo)
(Courtesy photo)

Metro riders may have to pony up more in the near future after the agency’s Finance Committee approved Thursday a $1.8 billion fiscal 2018 budget, which includes fare increases for bus, rail and parking service.

Officials said the transit agency’s first fare increase in three years would bring in $21 million. Metro also proposes to save an additional $2 million by eliminating 300 positions.

A 2016 internal report shows customer satisfaction fell below the target rate of 85 percent. For bus riders, it showed the rate at 77 percent and 66 percent for Metrorail riders.

The fare increases, which the full board plans to approve March 23, would be the following:

•    25 cents bus fare;
•    25 cents off-peak Metrorail and 10 cents peak Metrorail; and
•    10 cents for daily parking.

“You’re raising the price. You lose riders. There’s a lifetime [of] values to those riders that we’re not concerned [about],” said committee member Malcolm Augustine of Prince George’s County and the only person to vote against the budget recommendation. “This is just a bad business decision.”

Metro’s finance committee discusses a $1.8 billion fiscal 2018 budget proposal — which includes fare hikes and service cuts — during a March 9 meeting at the transit agency’s D.C. headquarters. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

Catherine Hudgins, who represents Virginia’s Fairfax County, admitted her decision was tough, but necessary.

“I would love to say no service will be cut and no fares will be increased, but … that’s not possible with the situation we are in,” she said.

The committee did agree on three amendments to keep some bus routes intact, five in Maryland including the T14 Rhode Island Avenue-New Carrollton service. However, the J7, J9 I-270 route in Montgomery County would discontinue in October.

The two bus routes affecting the District — the H6 in Northeast and B8 and B9 with the Fort Lincoln Shuttle in Northeast that stretches into Colmar Manor in Prince George’s — would remain unchanged.

Hudgins presented a resolution with seven amendments for Virginia such as restoring the Route 1C route in Fair Oaks and change the regular fare for airport routes 5A (Dulles International Airport) and B30 (Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport) to $7.50. According to fares posted on Metro’s website, the current price is $7 with a SmartTrip card, or cash.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said the agency’s main focus is safety and reliability.

“If you produce a bad product, you can keep dropping the price [but] that doesn’t mean people are going to buy the product,” he said to reporters during a media briefing. “You have to improve the product. The business decision is around the product, not necessarily focusing on the price.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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