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Metro considers rate hike

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Metro is feeling the grip of the government shutdown. It's already lost a couple million dollars so far because they've lost a quarter of its ridership.

Separate from the shutdown, Metro in its regular board meeting is considering a 10 cent rate hike. 

The Metro board considers a rate hike every couple of years.  If approved you would pay about 10 cents more a trip this summer. That equates to an average of $1.50 a week or $6 a month.

One rider told WUSA9, "I don't think they should." Another ride said, "Metro is already expensive so it's frustrating, but i also want to know why they're raising it and what other additional benefits are we going to see."

GM Richard Sarles with WMATA, said "We have additional improvements we're making we also have to take care of normal inflation costs of materials as well as labor."

A possible 10 cent rate hike along with increasing parking by a quarter wouldn't happen until the summer and would help generate 30 million dollars in revenue.

A rider said, "Since I use metro all the time even though it's 10 cents it adds up. So I would be against it."

"If it helps with the trains running on time and keeping clean I'd be okay with the 10 cent rate hike," said one rider. Some riders say they may consider walking. Metro expects because of the rate increase ridership would dip one 1% or less.

But a rate increase is something Metro will grapple with in the next 6 months. Metro is dealing with today's problem and the government shutdown. Metro is losing several hundred thousand dollars a day because ridership is down 20%. As a result, Metro has reduced trains from 8 to 6 cars. Not to mention, the District is delingquent in paying the transit system nearly $74 million dollars for this quarter.

Sarles said, "That's why we are saying that if the nation resolves its issues we can deal with that but if it goes on it can certainly have further impact."

But Metro General Manager Richard Sarles won't go into detail about what that negative impact might be in a prolonged government shutdown.

Sarles said, "In the long run, you can't sustain it. It's like everything else in the nation, at some point there will have to be other changes. 

Metro is even open to charging interest on the $74 million the District owes the transit system. 

Sarles said, "Interest rates are so low it's almost a non issue."