WASHINGTON – President Clinton’s proposed 14 percent cut to federal transportation programs could lead to fare hikes for Metrorail riders.
The Clinton budget, released Monday, cuts about $4 million from the $15 million in federal operating funds provided for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The federal government now supplies 3 percent of Metro’s $654 million operating budget.
“We will have to come up with that money from other sources,” said Patricia Lambe, a WMATA spokeswoman.
She said local governments or Metro riders might have to make up the difference.
A fare increase caused by the cuts would come on top of a 10-cent Metrorail hike already proposed to take effect in July.
One-way rail ticket prices now range from $1 to $3.
The transportation budget had other bad news for Maryland.
This is the second year in a row the president failed to include funds for the Maryland Commuter Rail System, which carries 15,000 riders a week between Baltimore and Washington.
Last year, Maryland members of Congress helped wrangle $14 million in federal funds for MARC, as part of the $375 million the state received in federal transportation funds.
But David Chapin, an analyst at the Maryland Department of Transportation, said funds may be more difficult to come by this year.
“The Republican Congress may want to make deep cuts,” Chapin said. “This year it’s going to be a greater challenge than ever before to assure we get the funds.”
This year, the Maryland Department of Transportation will seek $25 million to build an extension of the MARC line to Frederick and fund a maintenance facility, Chapin said.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said she would work hard to maintain federal funds for MARC.
The transportation budget did contain some good news: $22 million to expand the Baltimore light rail system to Penn Station and Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and $200 million for expansion of the Washington Metrorail.
There are 13.5 miles remaining to complete the 103-mile system that connects Washington, D.C., to its suburbs. “We are pleased about the construction funds,” Lambe said. -30-