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The most interesting thing about the 5 percent fare increases on Metrorail and Metrobus is that it’s clear Metro is trying to get everyone to use SmarTrip cards:

Metro’s base fare for rail riders would increase from $1.95 to $2.10. The maximum peak fare would increase from $5 to $5.75. The base off-peak rail fare would increase from $1.60 to $1.70. The maximum off-peak fare would be $3.50. Bus fares would increase by a dime, rising to $1.60 for those who use SmarTrip cards. Parking fees would rise by 25 cents.

Bus riders who pay cash would face a 20-cent surcharge. Metro has said it wants to push more people to use electronic Farecards because they are more efficient and transactions cost less to process.

For rail riders who use paper Farecards, Sarles had proposed a one-way flat fare that was $6 for rush hour and $4 for off-peak times. Now Metro is suggesting a $1 surcharge for paper cards.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sticking tourists who are unlikely to have SmarTrip cards with higher fees (especially since it’s hard to get them to spend their money in town). But higher fares for folks who rely on public transit, but who may be unbanked or may not have enough cash on hand to buy a $5 card and put money on it is a depressing trade-off.

Photo by jcolman via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License