Just days before the July 4th holiday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) rolled out fare increases for Metrorail, Metrobus and its parking facilities in a continued effort to balance its budget. On July 1, base peak rail fares increased from $1.95 to $2.10 while base off-peak fares rose from $1.60 to $1.70. Regular bus fares increased by 10-cents, but cash-paying riders are now charged an extra 20-cent surcharge, making their boarding fee $1.80. In addition, to encourage riders to use SmarTrip cards, WMATA added a $1 surcharge to all trips paid for with a paper fare card, although customers can now transfer up to $20, instead of $7, from a paper fare card to a SmarTrip card.
A few weeks before the fare hikes, WMATA unveiled a new Customer Service Action Plan to improve the system-wide customer experience—from enhanced announcements and signage to easier payment options and customer service training for frontline employees. The plan, developed using customer research—including surveys and focus groups—identified more than 50 actions that would be most responsive to customers’ needs and priorities. Visit the WMATA website for more information about the fare hikes and the action plan. And store this in your memory bank: Loudoun County voted to put the county and the Washington Dulles International Airport on the Metro map, thus allowing for the long-planned extension of the Metrorail system along the Dulles Corridor.