Friday, May 28, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
We know it's coming, but not when. We understand there is a shortfall, but not exactly why. We have an idea of the hole that needs to be filled, but not how much will come directly from our wallets.
"Options include a 15 percent hike in rail fares and a 20 percent increase in bus fares.
Peak rail fares could go from $1.65 to $1.90 and bus fares from $1.25 to $1.50."Also being weighed are new "peak of the peak" rail fares, an additional charge during the service times when ridership is heaviest, from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m."
The full board is expected to pick this up on May 27. So by Friday we commuters may know how much more we ought to start loading onto our SmartTrip cards every week.
One can't help but find fault with the Metro's spin on their "Peak of the Peak" rate hike, if what The Washington Examiner's Kytja Weir reports is correct. Not only will a potential spike in cost help make up some of that deficit, it also will "encourage riders to spread out their trips."
Good to know. I hope everyone who uses the Metro on a regular basis has that kind of flexibility at their jobs.
The official word from Metro officials is a bit more muted. Officials will likely make service adjustments, i.e. cutting back on trains, to fill in a portion of the budget hole. According to a Metro press release, after six hearings on the issue it's clear the public prefers fare hikes over adjustments:
"'During the public comment period, we received a great deal of input from customers,' said Sarles. 'We have taken these inputs into account as we propose a solution that we feel balances the FY2011 budget as well as the interests of all in the region fairly.'"
The release also notes the Metro is considering cutting 313 positions, eliminating pay raises for non-union employees, increased contributions from Virginia and Maryland and divert capital funds to preventative maintenance. You can see their proposed fare changes here and their full release here. Other than that, the Metro hasn't done a particularly good job of outlining why they need cash and why they need it now.
But maybe there's a white knight or two riding in to the rescue. As I write it appears a few members of the U.S. Senate are pulling a cavalry act and pitching a $2 billion Public Transportation Preservation Act of 2010 to ease the pain of floundering public rail and bus services across the country.
I guess in the end, myself and several hundred thousand other D.C. area commuters may be spared the fee hike, thanks in part to generous taxpayers of, let's say, Montana.
So thanks Montana.