WASHINGTON — There’s a fight over who should pay more to ride Metro. Maryland is pushing back against the transit agency’s proposal to increase rail fares for the first time since 2017.
In new documents presented to Metro’s board, the transit agency stuck up for a trio of proposed fare increases as part of its new operating budget. At rush-hour, Metro wants to increase the base fare by 10 cents to $2.35 to and the maximum you’d pay for a rush-hour ride by a dollar to $7. Metro is also proposing an increase to the distance rate that makes up all fares, regardless of when you ride.
Maryland has proposed an even higher rush-hour base fare of $2.50 but increasing the maximum fare by only 50 cents to $6.50.
Metro said Maryland’s proposal would hurt short-distance riders more and only help those commuting longer distances from the suburbs.
"These riders are among least price-sensitive," Metro budget documents said.
"It would be a lot," Liz Murphy, who commutes from Bowie to Arlington for work, said. Murphy’s ride from New Carrolton to Court House Metro would jump from $5.45 to $5.90 under Metro’s proposal, a 45-cents increase each way. That same round trip every workday for a year would add up to a $230 increase.
Metro said it needs to find $194 million in savings. Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld has said Metro’s budget proposal is not an a la carte menu -- that it must be taken holistically.
"Yes, we raised fares -- but a relatively small amount," Wiedefeld said. "We’re trying to do this mix of where we try to reach this balance we keep increasing ridership and make it more appealing to people but also realize that we have a financial responsibly."