WASHINGTON — Metro wants to extend rail service hours and improve service on weekends, but raise rush-hour fares as part of a new budget plan to “improve service and win back riders.”
Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld will present the transit agency’s $3.8 billion budget proposal to its board of directors on Thursday, kicking off months of debate. Early documents were made available publicly on Monday, detailing what Metro calls “improving service and customer experience.”
Here are the biggest takeaways that, if approved, will impact riders:
Metro wants to add some late-night hours. The transit agency is proposing closing at midnight from Monday to Thursday and at 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
“This initiative provides additional service to customers without jeopardizing maintenance and capital work,” Metro documents said.
Metro leaders had alluded for months that they would propose adding service hours, which they scaled back in 2017. Transit agency officials said crews needed more time for overnight trackwork. This proposal does not bring service back to 2016 levels.
Metro is proposing raising peak rail fares. Metro says “fares will be updated” with customers and efficiency in mind. Metro wants to raise the base fare for peak riders by 10 cents and raise the peak max fare by $1. Mileage-based fare tiers would be standardized to 33 cents per mile, according to Metro’s proposal.
Riding on weekends would get better, Metro says. Metro is proposing a $2 weekend rail flat fare to drive ridership. During a Metro board meeting last month, Metro Assistant General Manager Lynn Bowersox said that the transit agency is focusing on weekend ridership, which has been burdened by trackwork and delays. Metro wants to improve service by making trains operate with Saturday frequency on Sundays.
“As a result, frequency of service on all lines would be reduced from 15 minutes to 12 minutes, and in the core, the frequency would be reduced from 8 minutes to 6 minutes,” Metro’s proposal said.
A new annual budget must be approved by the end of the year to go into effect in July 2020.