February: this upcoming month brings Groundhog Day, St. Valentine's Day, and the nation's celebration of Black History. It's also heralds a Metro fare hike.
Starting Sun., Feb. 1, Metro fares will increase 25 cents for both adult peak and off-peak bus trips in one zone, to $2 and $1.75 respectively. Senior/disabled and youth fares will remain unchanged.
Metro spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok says that high fuel prices last year and falling sales tax revenues -- resulting in a smaller source of funding for the transit system -- created a budget shortfall. Ridership has increased as well, with preliminary numbers showing Metro offered 118 million rides last year, a seven percent rise over 2007. Approved by the King County Council last fall, the fare increase is one of numerous options Metro is considering to fill the budget gap, she says.
But as far as options go, this increase is part of a two-step plan. In 2010, Metro plans another fare hike. Ogershok says she doesn't know the exact timing or how much that second increase will be.