Metro riders will probably have to shell out more money -- and experience less service -- by the summer, according to a Metro board chairman.
Metro Board Chair Jack Evans, who has been a staunch opponent of Metro fare hikes, is joining other transit officials who are supporting a proposal to raise fares and further reduce service. The changes could take effect as early as July 1.
What was once a last resort to plug a massive budget gap is now reality as Metro quickly approaches a financial cliff.
"I'm willing to do these actions at the request of the general manager so that starting in July, this year, when the '18 budget kicks in - we can go to Congress and the three jurisdictions and say that we have done everything we possibly can - and we still do not have enough money. Now you must step up to the plate," Evans said.
Evans said it's time local leaders realized how dire the situation is and found a dedicated funding source such as a sales tax to permanently fund Metro.
People who depend on Metro, including many who have disabilities, pleaded with the Metro board during a public meeting Thursday not to cut service or raise fares.
"I rely on Metro to get around. I live, work, play and socialize just like you," one woman told the board. "I just found my freedom. Please don't take it away from me."
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Meanwhile, a group of D.C.-area lawmakers sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office on Thursday asking for a report on Metro's "safety and operational management, governance, and dedicated funding."
“Previous GAO reports have lent insight into these issues, but we believe a comprehensive analysis would be worthwhile in providing an objective picture of where WMATA is on these fronts and where it should be going in the future,” the lawmakers said in the letter.