A Metro employee helps a rider at Prince George's Plaza Metro station in Hyattsville, which reopened Sept. 7 after nearly an entire summer of platform work and other safety improvements. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)
A Metro employee helps a rider at Prince George's Plaza Metro station in Hyattsville, which reopened Sept. 7 after nearly an entire summer of platform work and other safety improvements. (Robert R. Roberts/The Washington Informer)

Metro officials are proposing several changes in fares and late-night service to bring back riders after the coronavirus pandemic decreased ridership by at least one-third.

The proposed changes in Metro documents released Tuesday include a $1 bus fare, $2 late-night rail fares after 9:30 p.m. and implementing a $4 flat fee for MetroAccess trips.

The transit agency also recommends for eligible low-income riders to receive discounts equivalent to seniors and those physically disabled.

“Fare policy and initiatives have the potential to increase ridership, advance equity and improve the customer experience,” according to a staff report prepared to discuss Thursday before the agency’s Finance and Capital Committee. “While future ridership and revenue remain uncertain as Metro and the region recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Metro has the opportunity to update its fare policy principles and to consider additional concepts for fare changes.”

The report notes these proposals would be reviewed again in November to prepare the fiscal year 2023 budget.

Metro’s board of directors already approved discounted fares and an extension in service hours, including a $2 Metrorail flat rate on the weekends, reducing a seven-day regional bus pass from $15 to $12 and closing Metrorail stations at midnight Sunday through Thursday and at 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Due to the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus, customers have been slow to return, though, with some workers telecommuting and choosing to drive to their jobs.

The agency received nearly $763 million in federal funding towards this fiscal year’s $2.1 billion budget.

The agency’s 10-year, $15.5 billion capital improvement plan to refurbish 20 rail stations is another way to entice customers.

Earlier this month, four stations in Prince George’s County along the Green and Yellow lines — West Hyattsville, Prince George’s Plaza in Hyattsville, University of Maryland in College Park and Greenbelt — reopened after nearly an entire summer of platform work and other safety improvements.

Work at those and 13 other stations in the D.C. region include new LED lights, slip-resistant tiles and stainless steel shelters where people can charge cellphones.

Renovation work at the last three stations in Prince George’s — Cheverly, Landover and New Carrollton — are scheduled to begin next summer.

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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