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W.Va. commuters face fee increase

April 19, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Commuters from the Panhandle who use MARC to travel to work in the Washington area could pay as much as $45 more a month should MARC increase its fares as proposed.

A monthlong pass to ride from Martinsburg to Washington costs $205. MARC officials are considering increasing that to $250. A single trip would increase from $8.25 to $10 each way, said Alonzo Williams, manager of media and public relations for the Maryland Transit Administration.

If approved, the higher fares would take effect in July.

Higher fares would also go into effect for passengers who head toward Washington after boarding a train in Harpers Ferry or Duffields. The monthly fare for those riders would increase from $184 to $225, while the price of a one-way ticket would increase from $7.25 to $9, Williams said.

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A similar increase took effect seven years ago, resulting in decreased ridership, Williams said. Despite fewer riders, Williams said improvements have been made to the trains, including refurbished rail cars.

"We still feel that despite this modest increase, we are a good value for our customers," he said.

About 400 people board MARC trains in West Virginia each day, Williams said.

Since the last increase, fuel prices and other expenses have increased.

"We have a need to address those issues," Williams said.

In addition to the increased fares, two trains - No. 883 that leaves Washington at 6:45 p.m. and No. 885 that leaves at 7:35 p.m. - would be combined. The new train would leave at 7:15 p.m. and arrive in Martinsburg at 9:10 p.m.

Riders who get off the train in Silver Spring, Md., or Rockville, Md., also would face higher fares. From Martinsburg, a monthly pass to Silver Spring would increase from $184 to $225, and a pass to Rockville would increase from $164 to $200.

A monthly pass from either Duffields or Harpers Ferry to Silver Spring would increase from $164 to $200, while a pass to Rockville would increase from $143 to $175.

Public hearings will be held next month for anyone who wishes to comment on the rate increases.

For more information, go to www.mtamaryland.com or call 866-RIDE-MTA.

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