Riders of the Washington D.C. Metro system are about to get hit with another fare increase, after the transit authority’s board approved across-the-board hikes in parking fees, bus and rail fares in an effort to offset a projected budget deficit of more than $100 million.
Bus fares will increase by a dime to $1.60 for those who use the electronic SmarTrip cards. Rail rates, which vary based upon time of day and whether the trip crosses state lines, will rise an average of 5 percent.
The changes are scheduled to take effect July 1.
Only the maximum $7 for MetroAccess, which serves low income seniors and the disabled, remains unchanged.
Tourists will feel the pinch as well. A 7-day rail fast pass will increase from $11.75 per day to $14.37 per day, and the four one-day rail pass package will increase from $36 to $56.
The biggest complaint came from MetroAccess customers and advocates for the disabled, who objected to the increase, noting that they already pay twice the fares of a comparable bus or rail trip. Currently, about one-quarter of MetroAccess customers pay the maximum $7. That proportion will go up to about half of all MetroAccess riders when the new rate increases go into effect.
“If they don’t think it’s fair to charge any rail rider more than $5.75, why is it fair to charge a MetroAccess rider $7?” disabled rights advocate Doris Ray told The Washington Examiner after the meeting.
Riders talked about the limiting impact on their mobility because of the expense of taking MetroAccess, describing missed doctor appointments, Braille classes and making fewer trips to the grocery store.
The agency did agree to look at ways to help customers review route options to find ways to reduce the costs of their trips.