Senate budget calls for transit fare increase

A provision of a Senate budget bill that passed Thursday would -- if accepted by the House -- require the Maryland Transit Administration to raise fares on its core services in Baltimore to keep pace with inflation.

The clause in the annual budget reconciliation bill would end the transit fare freeze on MTA bus, subway and light rail services that has prevailed for almost a decade. The base one-way fare for those services is $1.60.

A provision the Senate inserted into Gov. Martin O'Malley's original bill would require the MTA to adjust fares every other year, starting in the budget year beginning July 1, to account for increases in the Consumer Price Index over the previous two calendar years.

According to Maryland Department of Transportation spokesman Jack Cahalan, if the CPI were to increase by 3 percent a year, that would bring an  would translate into an increase of reoughly 10 cents with each readjustment. The result, he said, would be a fare of $1.70 in the 2013 budget year and $1.80 in 2015.

Gov. Martin O'Malley said his administration opposes the increase because it conflicts with the state's goal of doubling transit use.

The General Assembly's budget committees in recent years have put pressure on the MTA to raise fares to recover a greater share of the state's spending on mass transit. In previous years, the legislature has made suggestions. This year, if the House concurs, it would be the law.



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