D.C. Metro proposes an overall three percent increase in fares for 2014

Earlier this month, it was revealed that the District metro transit officials have drafted legislation that will increase overall rail fares by three percent. In terms of price per ride, this means that the cost of an average Metro trip will jump to $3.00, up ten cents from the cost of a typical ride today.

This new $2.9 billion budget proposal, however, will impact more than just the price of the metrorail. The standard bus fare will be set at $1.75, regardless of whether or not one is paying with SmarTrip or with cash. Changes will also be seen in the price of parking in Metro lots and garages as the new budget calls for a 25 cent increase from the current standard of $5 a day. Although certain fares would have gone up by nearly a half with the formula used in the proposal, Mark Schofield, Metro’s senior economic and financial adviser, says they are determined to cap any pending increases at fifteen percent.

While generally it is perceived that improvements have begun to take place within the metro system, these price increases were announced a time not long after numerous problems with the Red Line, including a hydraulic fluid leak, a corroded cable, and dysfunctional brakes. “All the breakdowns [happen] when you are in a hurry and trying to get to work. It’s outrageous,” says Peter Isikoff about these complications.

In defending his proposal to raise the metro fares by July 1, 2014, Metro General Manager Richard Sarles asserts that most of the fares actually pay for the salaries and benefits of Metro employees, not just maintenance costs. In fact, under Sarles’ new budget plan for 2015, there will be an eight percent increase in the income of Metro workers. “I think when you look back at the wage settlements that were made, they were very modest and they were right in line with what is going on throughout this region,” he says.

While some might deem these price hikes to be controversial, they are at least not unexpected: the policy of the Metro is to raise fares every other year, and 2013 did not see any price increases. This coming winter and spring, Metro officials will be attempting to gather support from customers and elected District representatives alike as the 2014 budget proposal is subject to various public hearings.

But regardless of these price changes and any angst angst you may have about mayhem on the Red Line, Vox hopes  you can take at least a little bit of comfort in the fact that the D.C. metro was ranked 17th out of the all mass transit systems in the largest 100 metropolitan areas in the country. Not bad, D.C. Metro, not bad.

Photo: A. Currell via Flickr

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