- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2007

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Metro officials yesterday deferred voting on a proposal by General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. to increase the minimum subway fare by 40 cents.

The increase would be Metro’s first in four years and include a 25-cent increase for bus fares. Agency officials say the increases are needed because of rising energy costs, expanded service and growing maintenance needs.

The agency’s board of directors said it put the proposal on hold because more details were needed before members could approve public hearings on the issue. A special meeting to receive more information from Mr. Catoe is scheduled for Sept. 27.

Under the proposal, the minimum Metrorail fare would be $1.75, up from the current $1.35. Rush-hour fares would start at $1.80. The maximum rush-hour fare would increase to $4.50, up from $3.90. Metrorail fares vary depending on trip length.

Bus riders would pay a flat fee of $1.50, up from $1.25. Metro also is proposing to increase daily parking rates by $1.

Mr. Catoe has said he would like a fare increase to go into effect as early as January.

Metro carries about 1.2 million bus and subway passengers on an average weekday. Revenue from passengers has increased in recent years as the system has set ridership records, but the additional money has not offset rising costs.

Metro officials predict a $173 million shortfall in the estimated $1.3 billion operating budget for the fiscal year that begins in July.

Dana Kauffman, a Metro board member and Fairfax County supervisor, has said riders should understand that the system needs more funds to prevent service delays.

“I trust the common sense of our riders,” said Mr. Kauffman, a Democrat. “The reason for almost all of the disruptions has been because of [a lack of] investment, not bad management.”

Problems with rail cars and electrical equipment led to a series of delays over the summer.

Power problems hobbled train service in the region for two consecutive nights last month. Officials blamed the shutdowns on aging infrastructure and a suspected lightning strike. Metro is still investigating what caused the power problems.

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