Rip Sullivan Running for Delegate — Richard “Rip” Sullivan is the first candidate to announce his candidacy to replace the retiring Del. Bob Brink. Sullivan, a Democrat and a Fairfax County resident, said he’s running “to fight the Tea Party Republicans trying to roll back social and economic progress in Virginia.” [Rip Sullivan for Delegate]
Metro Fare Increase Takes Effect — Metrorail fares have been raised an average of 10 cents as of Sunday. Other changes include hikes to Metrobus fares, MetroAccess fares and Metro parking rates. [WMATA]
Arlington-Based Agency Works to Foil Hackers — Reporters were recently given a tour of the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a Department of Homeland Security-run hub for the U.S. government’s coordinated response to cyber attacks. The highly secure and classified office is located in a “non-descript” office building in Ballston, above a chain restaurant. [Bloomberg, InformationWeek]
‘Airbnb for Boats’ in D.C. — A service called Boatbound has launched in the D.C. area. It allows boat owners to rent out their boats to non-boat owners. The going rate for most boats on Boatbound is $200-500 per day. [Washington City Paper]
Flickr pool photo by Eric
Metro General Manager Richard Sarles’ budget calls for bus fares to increase by 15 cents, Metrorail fares to increase by 10 cents, and parking fees to increase by 25 cents. Will that lead to significantly more commuters hitting the road in cars? Probably not, says AAA Mid-Antic.”
“Even with a three percent average increase, area commuters will still save by using public transit after doing the math,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “After adding up the costs of driving and parking, commuters will often find that public transit is a more economical way to get to work and stick with Metro.”
For instance, AAA says a commuter who drives to work in downtown D.C. from Alexandria pays about $500 per month in vehicle costs, gas and parking. Someone who parks and rides from the Huntington Metro station will pay about $330 per month after the fare hike.
Off-peak rail fares are increasing from $1.60-$2.75, depending on the length of your trip, to $1.70-$3.50. Peak fares are increasing from $1.95-$5.20 to $2.10-$5.75.
In order to encourage riders to utilize SmartTrip cards, there will also be new a $1 surcharge for riders using paper fare cards.
Metrobus fares are increasing from $1.50 to $1.60 for SmartTrip users, and from $1.70 to $1.80 for riders using cash.
As part of the changes, WMATA is eliminating its 20 cent “peak-of-the-peak” Metrorail surcharge. More information, including the fares for seniors and people with disabilities, is available on the Metro website.
Arlington Transit (ART) bus fares, meanwhile, will remain $1.50 for adults and $0.75 for seniors, people with disabilities, and teens with student ID. Due to the Metro fare increases, however, ART will be imposing a 5 to 10 cent transfer fee for those transferring to Metrobus.
Metro has has drawn up a fiscal year 2013 budget and has plans for another fare hike this summer. But before pushing forward with these two measures, the agency wants to hear your input at a series of meetings.
Meetings start tonight and will be held throughout the region, with Arlington’s taking place next Monday, March 5. An open forum will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the cafeteria at Washington-Lee High School (1301 N. Stafford St), and the public hearing will begin at 7:00 p.m.
The open forum will have several stations to provide information to the public. Tables staffed by senior workers of Metrobus, Metrorail, MetroAccess, SmarTrip and police will be set up to give specific information and answer individual questions. In another area, a video presentation will be shown regarding Metro’s rebuilding program. There will also be a station with computers where participants can take an online survey and submit comments about Metro’s priorities.
Metro’s $1.6 billion FY2013 budget is an increase of $116 million over the last fiscal year. It shows a net decrease in revenue of $3 million over last fiscal year. The proposed fare increases are expected to generate $66 million. An additional $53 million increase in funding would come from jurisdictions.
In looking at the breakdown of the $116 million increase in the budget, Metro reports that $61 million is needed for higher expenses for existing operations. Half of that is due to the higher cost of fringe benefits, such as health care and pension benefits. The other half is due to an increase in contracted labor costs. The remaining $55 million is for improvements in safety, security and reliability.
The budget would cover projects designed to bring Metro in line with some NTSB recommendations, such as upgrading the signal system and replacing the oldest rail cars. Track rehabilitation and replacement of the system’s escalators and elevators is also planned.
Along with the fare increase, Metro plans to simplify the fare structure and do away with the current “peak of the peak” pricing, which was deemed too confusing. The Metro Board is expected to act on the budget in June, and fare changes are expected to go into effect on or around July 1.
Along with detailed information about the budget and fare increases, information about registering to speak at the public hearing or submitting written comments can be found online. There’s also an online survey regarding the budget and fare increases.
Metro Fares Going Up This Morning — Metrorail riders will start paying an extra 20 cents during this morning’s rush hour. Starting today, the peak base fare is increasing from $1.75 to $1.95. On Sunday, riders started paying $1.60 for the off-peak base fare, up from $1.45. Metrobus fares have also increased. More from Fox 5.
Pentagon Shooting Heroes Honored — The Pentagon police officers who stopped the Pentagon Metro Station shooter received the Medal of Valor from the Department of Defense on Friday. Officers Marvin Carraway, Jr. and Jeffery Amos, who were shot by 36-year-old John Patrick Bedell in the attack, were honored alongside officers Dexter Jones and Colin Richards, who also who helped to stop Bedell from entering the Pentagon on the night of March 4. More from WUSA 9.
Big Spenders, Big Collectors — Arlington County collects more per resident and spends more per resident than any other locality in Virginia, the Washington Examiner reports. On average, Arlington collects $4,240 per person and spends $4,209 per person. On a per capita basis, Arlington outspends every other Virginia locality on fire and rescue services, parks and recreation, and social services.
Marine Charged With Rape — A Marine charged in the abduction of an Arlington woman has been formally charged in the abduction and rape of another. Jorge “George” Torrez, 21, has been the prime suspect in the February 27 crime, but is only now being charged after detectives were able to link him to the case. Torrez, who was based at Fort Myer-Henderson Hall, now faces 14 charges including abduction with intent to defile, forcible sodomy, and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.