Two months after increasing D.C. Metro fares by an average of 5 percent, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced last week that it ended fiscal year 2012 with a $28 million surplus.
The fare increase is the third in the last five years, in accordance with the Metro Board of Directors’ 2008 decision to increase fares approximately every two years.
According to a report in The Washington Examiner, the fare increase, which went into effect July 1, could not be avoided, even though a surplus was likely, because the surplus projections were only a forecast.
In a Sept. 10 press release, WMATA attributed the savings to an audit of the eligibility of health care benefit recipients on its staff and to fuel hedging, which solidified a new cost-cutting rate.
The rate hikes, which included a $1 surcharge on paper fare cards in an effort to reduce costs, have drawn criticism from the Georgetown community.
Kate Dylewsky (COL ’13), who commuted to her summer internship on Capitol Hill via public transportation, said the increases have made her less likely to ride the Metro.
“I was frustrated over the summer, when I had an unpaid internship, because I was responsible for transportation costs, and the Metro fares really added up, meaning that I was paying to go to work,” she said.
Although she no longer requires the Metro to get to work, Dylewsky indicated that she would hesitate to commute in the future.
“Especially with the increase, I couldn’t afford to commute to work every day if I wasn’t being paid,” she said.
Ana Rodriguez (SFS ’15), who travels weekly to Columbia Heights to teach a course designed to help recent immigrants pass their naturalization exam, echoed this sentiment.
“It’s so annoying, and it’s not good for my budget. I’m only trying to serve the community, and it’s costing me more than I have,” she said. “I really like what I do, so I’ll pay for it, but it’s annoying.”
To offset the increase in fares for paper cards, WMATA has announced plans to continue installing machines that sell SmarTrip cards in stations throughout the network to make them easier to purchase.
Other changes to the Metro system include the elimination of the 20 percent peak-of-the-peak surcharges. Originally instituted to reduce crowding, the surcharge failed because it was not effective in getting riders to alter their commutes.