Remember when we told you that Metrorail service was about to get worse this year because of maintenance? It’s also going to get more expensive. WMATA will be pushing for a 5 percent fare increase for Smartrip card users and a flat fee for the 17 percent of customers who still use paper farecards. And that’s just to fill in the budget gap, says the Post, not to cover service improvements:

Riders who use paper Farecards would face the biggest change. Whether going two stops or 10, they would pay one-way flat fares: $6 during rush hour, $4 in off-peak times. For a group traveling together, hailing a taxi might quickly become more palatable.

The last fare increase was two years ago, and it was the broadest in Metro’s history. An increase this year is likely to be unpopular because the system struggles daily with service disruptions — some planned, and others not. Riders face delays because of train malfunctions and other issues. In the past three weeks, brake parts have fallen off two rail cars.

The additional revenue won’t alleviate the system’s chronic problems with its escalators or increase trains on the Red Line. Covering the shortfall will just keep the buses and trains running at the current level of service.

The flat fare actually doesn’t seem like a terrible idea. But considering how bad service has gotten, it’s going to be difficult getting people on board, so to speak.

Photo by Mike Hicks