The Mass Transit Administration announced yesterday a proposal to raise the cost to ride its bus, light rail or Metro transit systems by 8 percent, but eliminate the current zone system and associated charges to ride those transit systems.
The proposal seeks a fare increase from $1.25 to $1.35 to ride the MTA. Fares to ride the MARC commuter rail would increase by nine percent, MTA officials said.
Daily riders making multiple trips would pay less because zone fares would be stopped and a new day pass instituted, the MTA added.
A series of public meetings on the proposal will begin next month. If approved, the rates will go into effect Feb. 11.
John A. Agro Jr., the MTA administrator, said the fare increases are the result of MTA's efforts to meet a state requirement that 50 percent of the MTA's operating expenses be collected from fares.
"We're at a point where we must adjust our fare box revenues," Mr. Agro said. "Since our last fare adjustment, the scope of our service has expanded dramatically.
"We have opened MARC stations, extended the Metro to Johns Hopkins Hospital, completed the opening of the Central Light Rail Line and began construction on three extensions and expanded our bus operations beyond the Baltimore metropolitan area."
The fare increases are MTA's first since January 1993, when the base cost to ride the MTA systems rose from $1.10 to $1.25. The MTA serves 350,000 customers a day.
The increases are part of a restructuring of the MTA's transit systems. Under the proposal, the zone fares would be eliminated, a day pass will be initiated and changes would be made in the discount offered for monthly and weekly ticket holders.
"We are very sensitive to our customers and our customers' needs," Mr. Agro said. "This gives us a chance to be as creative as possible to meet the needs of our customers."
With the elimination of the zone fares -- in which customers pay additional amounts when they travel outside of the area in which they boarded -- fare collection would be simplified and passengers would have easier movement throughout the transit system.
The Day Pass, to cost $3, would replace the transit transfers and allow unlimited, all-day travel. MTA officials said the Day Pass will be cost efficient for customers who make multiple trips using the MTA each day.
The discount for passengers who buy monthly tickets will be reduced from 60 percent to 50 percent, while the discount for those who buy weekly tickets will be reduced from 55 percent to 45 percent, MTA officials said.
Mr. Agro said that if the new fares are approved, it is unlikely that MTA would have another increase until 2000.