Metro’s GM Is Calling For Higher Fares And Expanded Hours

Metro’s General Manager Paul Wiedefeld has come up with a proposed budget for the transit agency that calls for fare hikes and some expanded hours.

The proposal is for the 2021 fiscal year that begins on July 1st. The system would return to closing at midnight Monday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday Metro would close at 2 a.m. Weekend riders would pay a flat fee of $2. There would also be another fee for riders needing to transfer between bus and rail. Ultimately, it would save customers $1.50.

The full plan will be submitted to the board this week. The goal is to win the hearts of past riders to want to return to the transit system.

Wiedefeld says he can pay for the changes by increasing fares by 10 cents for base rail fares. Bus fares would not be affected for customers who use Smartip cards. Those boarding a bus who have to pay will be charged a surcharge of 25 cents. He explains that people paying when they get on the bus is the number one reason why the buses run later.

The General Manager’s plan for the first time includes a $3 million contingency plan for special events. Wiedefeld’s plan will be presented to the board on Thursday. It will be a few weeks before public hearings will be set up.

His plan also calls for more bus service on the weekend. Nine low performing Metrobus routes will be shutdown. Those locations have not yet been released.

The fiscal budget proposed is 1.98 billion dollars. It’s a 2 percent increase over the current operational budget. There is some good news. Ridership is up almost 2 percent this year so far.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and the City Council have requested the return to late night service hours. His current plan, however, does not restore the hours to those dating back to pre 2016 levels. Wiedefeld says it would jeopardize safety.

The systems fares are linked to distance travels. Base on his proposal 46 percent of peak riders will see fares go from $1 to $7.

Wiedefeld who says safety is always first to him admits this proposal focuses alot on what he has heard from riders regarding what they want and need from the transit agency.

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