Doris Ray didn’t hold back her feelings about during a meeting in Falls Church Wednesday night.
Clutching a dollar bill in her hand, the Fairfax resident spoke loudly into a microphone, telling Metro officials their tactics to get riders to use SmartTrip cards were wrong: Under Metro's proposed plan, passengers on local and limited bus routes paying with cash would now pay $2 instead of $1.70. Those paying with SmartTrip would not pay the extra $0.30 per ride.
“This is not an incentive it’s a penalty,” Ray said of Metro’s attempt to get people to use SmartTrip cards instead of cash. Metro said the strategy is designed to simplify Metro’s fare structure and encourage the use of SmartTrip cards, which it says would allow buses to provide on time service. “You should not penalize people for paying with cash.”
Wednesday’s meeting at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School was the second public meeting Metro held on their proposed fiscal year 2013 budget. As a part of the proposed $1.6 billion operating budget, transit users would need to contribute a total of $66 million through fare and fee hikes, which include Metrorail, Metrobus, MetroAccess and station parking.
The plan also calls for an 8 percent increase in contributions from jurisdictions for a total of $53 million.
The proposed $904 million capital budget includes the replacement of Metro’s oldest railcars with newer models, track and infrastructure rehabilitation, and escalator and elevator replacements, according to Metro. The Metro board is expected to take action on the budget in June, with any adopted changes going into effect in July.
Shiva Pant, Metro’s chief of staff, said the proposed budget is the largest since the transit company broke ground on its subway service 35-years ago. He said since expenses are going up and resources are down, Metro needs $116 million to help with the budget and increases are what will drive that funding.
“In the long run the improvements will provide a better, safer commute for our customers,” Pant said.
More information on the proposed budget is available via Metro's website.