The price of a one-way Maryland Transit Administration bus, subway, light rail or Mobility shuttle ticket will rise by 10 cents next month, the MTA announced Tuesday, saying the fare increase is required by state law.
The single-trip fare for the local bus, subway and light rail will rise to $1.90 on June 23, while the price of a Mobility ticket will increase to $2.10, the MTA said. The fee for a monthly pass will rise to $74, a $2 increase.
Commuter bus and MARC train fares are not affected by the increase; the agency reviews and raises those fares every five years, in accordance with Maryland’s 2013 transportation funding law. They are scheduled for their next review in 2020.
The MTA said that state law requires transit fares to go up every two years after any increase in the consumer price index, which measures inflation. The index rose 4.2% since the last fare increase, which occurred just after the rollout of the new BaltimoreLink bus system in 2017.
But the law instructs the MTA to round the price increases to the nearest 10 cents, the agency says, which means the rate hikes since have been well above inflation.
Legislative analysts have disputed the MTA’s interpretation of the law, the Transportation Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2013. When fares were first increased under the law in 2015, the nonpartisan Department of Legislative Services said the MTA should have kept them flat.
The MTA notes that its fares remain “among the lowest of top transit agencies across the United States” and that its mobile ticketing app, CharmPass, allows riders to transfer between local buses, light rail and the subway for free within 90 minutes.
Even with the increase, MTA transit fares remain affordable for most passengers, said Brian O’Malley, president of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, a rider advocacy group.
What hurts riders’ wallets far more, he said, is when unreliable service causes them to miss work or appointments.
“The greatest impact to households’ pocketbooks is the difference between great service — fast, frequent, reliable and connected to jobs — and unreliable, inefficient service,” O’Malley said. “We’re somewhere on the continuum, but we should always be improving, and we should be transparent and accountable about how we’re doing.”
An unsuccessful bill sponsored by Del. Melissa Wells in the most recent legislative session would have capped fares at the monthly rate for riders who buy a month’s worth of single or other tickets — an equity issue for those unable to afford the full monthly pass at the beginning of the month, O’Malley said.
“That’s an interesting idea,” he said.
The plan will “define public transportation goals for Central Maryland, including Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Harford County, and Howard County,” according to the MTA’s website.
“It’s an opportunity for the public to weigh in on how service could be better and what they want service to look like,” O’Malley said.