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1/13/2003



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Battling budget shortfall, WMATA staff recommends fare, parking-fee increases


In an effort to maximize passenger revenue and minimize ridership losses, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) staff recently recommended a menu of targeted fare increases and parking-fee strategies designed to meet the agency’s operating budget revenue requirements for fiscal-year 2004, which begins July 1.



Proposed at a Jan. 9 WMATA budget committee meeting, the recommendations include increasing the Metrorail peak boarding charge up to 30 cents (from $1.10 to $1.40); increasing the maximum peak Metrorail fare to 60 cents; increasing the off-peak Metrorail fare up to 30 cents; increasing the Metrobus boarding charge as much as 20 cents (from $1.10 to $1.30) all day; increasing the daily parking rate 25 cents to $1, and the monthly reserved parking rate $30; and modifying MetroAccess fares from $2.20 to double the fastest equivalent bus and/or rail fare.



"Many other transit agencies are proposing fare increases in these challenging economic times," said Director of Business Planning and Development Rick Stevens in a prepared statement. "What's important to note, however, is that we are not proposing any service reductions, as ridership for all services continues to run slightly above last year."



In December, WMATA Chief Executive Officer Richard White announced the agency is facing a $48 million budget shortfall for FY 2004. WMATA plans to reduce expenses by $24 million, primarily by cutting management positions and increasing passenger revenues by $24 million. White also proposed increasing police and safety capabilities.



"This is the first time in eight years that Metro has proposed a change in its fare structure and we hope our customers understand why this is necessary," White said, adding that the agency is seeking riders’ input at upcoming public hearings on the proposed increases.


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