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Metro could consider first fare hike in years, but there might be another way

Without a fare increase since 2017, Metro board members are eyeing alternatives to an across-the-board fare hike

ARLINGTON, Va. — Metro might soon consider raising fares as part of its annual budget talks, but one of the transit agency’s board members is advocating a fare restructuring over fare hikes.

Metro has not raised fares since 2017, but WMATA board member Christian Dorsey says agency leaders should “look at our fare structure” instead of an across-the-board fare hike.

“I never want to be in the business of raising fares just to meet a budget number,” said Dorsey, who represents Virginia on WMATA’s board.

It’s welcome news to riders like Liz Murphy, who rides from Bowie to Court House Metro in Arlington three days a week. With her daily commute costing $11, she said any fare hike “would be a lot” and called the prospect any fare increases “punitive.”

Right now, one rush hour ride is capped at $6. Fares are based on a trip's mileage. But Dorsey thinks there could be a better balance—a new fare structure so commuters from the suburbs aren't slammed.

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"The whole idea is that fares make sense. are sustainable over time, and quite frankly do what we need them to do which is drive people to transit,” said Dorsey.

It is welcome news for some riders as a new debate over who should pay more is just getting started. Fare changes could be part of Metro's proposed annual budget, due out next month. Any changes would likely take effect next July.

“I think you have to raise rates every now and then,” said Murphy. “Costs go up so I understand it, but I think you have to look at how much."

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