Facing a gaping budget shortfall, Metro is proposing a 5 percent fare increase and higher parking rates in exchange for getting rid of its rush-hour surcharge – a target of constant criticism since it was implemented in summer 2010.
Paper farecard users would feel the changes the most, according to The Washington Post. Those riders would pay one-way flat rates of $6 during rush-hour trips and $4 during off-peak times.
The adjustments aim to alleviate the transit agency’s financial woes, with $116 million in the red for its next operating budget. Metro’s board of directors will hear the proposal at a meeting Thursday.
Rush-hour fares would increase by less than 5 percent for SmarTrip users. Off-peak base fare would see a 10-cent increase from $1.60 to $1.70 under the proposed changes, and the maximum off-peak fare would reach $3.50. Bus fares would also increase from $1.50 to $1.60.
Any rate changes would take effect July 1, following board discussions and public hearings, according to The Post. The flat rate could take until Labor Day to roll out, buying Metro time to add SmarTrip vending machines at stations that do not already have them.