Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Metro Commuters May Soon Pay More

Georgetown students may soon find themselves reaching deeper into their pockets to find spare change for Metro fares if the board that oversees the transit system raises fares this summer.

The hike, which was proposed at a meeting of Metro board members last month, will not likely be voted on until the spring. The Metro budget is currently facing a $116-million shortfall.

The proposed hike, which would go into effect July 1, would raise Metrorail costs an average of $0.30, Metrobus costs an average of $0.05 and parking fees an average of $0.75, according to etro’s proposed budget for the 2008 fiscal year. During peak hours, Metro officials plan to charge a “congestion fee” of $0.35 on top of the fare hikes.

The proposal will increase fares for passengers using SmarTrip cards at a lower rate than for passengers paying cash.

Metro officials are currently looking into alternative ways to address the budget deficit to minimize the effect on passengers, said Steven Taubenkibel, a spokesperson for the Washington etropolitan Area Transit Authority.

“We are looking at a combination of fare changes and administrative and service cuts,” Taubenkibel said. “Raising fare rates are the last possible resort if we cannot cut the budget enough to meet expenses.”

Alternative ways of balancing the budget include eliminating unnecessary administrative costs such as travel and marketing, Taubenkibel said. Metro is also considering reducing bus and rail services, operating fewer hours, closing underutilized station entrances and eliminating certain routes.

Several Metro board members want to bring an outside consultant to further evaluate the organization’s spending.

If Metro goes through with its increase in fare prices, it would be the second fare hike since 2004.

“The board of directors is extremely conscious that we already raised fare prices three years ago,” Taubenkibel said.

The fare hikes may become a burden for Georgetown faculty members and students who regularly use the Metro to commute from work or internships regularly.

Molly Douglas (SFS ’09) uses the Metrorail at least four times a week to go to and from her internship at the office of Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.). For students in her position, Metro fares may rise anywhere from 30-65 cents per trip.

“A lot of parents here ask their children to be responsible for books, travel costs, dinners and other things,” Douglas said. “Georgetown is already so expensive, and students have no alternative but to use the etro.”

Erik Wesley, director for D.C. Reads, takes both Metrobus and etrorail twice a day to and from his home in Temple Hills, aryland.

“I think it’s ridiculous to raise the fares,” he said. “Taking both the bus and the Metro, it already costs me $3 just to go one way to my work. And when they raise parking fees by that much parking becomes a real expense for people.”

Taubenkibel said that Metro officials are still in the early stages of discussing possible fare increases. “It is going to take a couple of months,” he said.

Metro will hold public hearings to discuss fare policy and service changes starting Feb. 22.

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