Our Take: No new fare hike without results

After an eight year period of static prices, Metro officials raised fares 10 cents this summer - and AU students might see another fare hike next summer. The proposed increase, which would be under 10 cents, is only a proposal at this point, and if the change went through it wouldn't take effect until July 2004. We realize the fare hike this summer was necessary and we appreciate extended hours of operation, but we are concerned that this proposed hike would come too soon after the last one.

We need to see tangible results from a fare hike, should another one occur. Metro plans to have new trains on every line by 2005, and hopefully by then there will be a canopy over every station entrance. Infrastructure damage over the last 30 years or so also needs to be fixed. If Metro makes these changes and improves its efficiency with the money from a new fare hike - which would probably be five cents to make the fare $1.25 - then we don't mind paying a few extra cents. However, we are concerned that a new fare hike would come so soon after the last one. Metro fares add up over the course of a semester, and an extra 10 to 15 cents for every ride will make a long-term impact on everyone's wallet.

We also question why Metro would start to plan for another hike only two months after the first one. If officials underestimated how much money it would take to make up their budget deficit, can they really be certain after only two and a half months? Riders would be much happier with a one-time increase. If a new fare hike evolves and comes into effect next summer, riders will have to get used to the new prices all over again, and Metro will be inundated with grumbling complaints. Let's be clear: it's not so much the price increase that we mind; it's the apparent uncertainty from Metro when they make their budgets.

Although we don't want to see another fare hike, we can deal with it if it's absolutely necessary and if we can see tangible results, like we did this summer with increased hours of operation. If Metro can finally make those shaded stations on its map a reality and create the purple line, and if there are new canopies and increased efficiency, then we can swallow the fare hike pill with greater ease. We'd love to see new trains, but we want new trains because the old ones are broken down and not because new trains look better. The proposed hike is still tentative, and hopefully it won't become a reality - but if it does, we can only hope that Metro is acting with good reason and can create real benefits for AU and D.C. riders.

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