Photo by Beechwood Photography on Flickr.

The WMATA board is hashing out the final details on a public hearing to ask your opinion on how to close the remaining $72.5 million funding gap for the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1. The public’s choices, however, will be limited.

The proposal includes a narrowly targeted fare increase, which would increase the discounted bus fares associated with the Anacostia Metrorail station.

Those bus fares will be increased to match the bus fares in the rest of the region, except for customers that are transferring between bus and rail transit. The fares were reduced back when the Green Line opened and the bus lines which used to travel farther into the city were truncated.

Another part of the proposal eliminates three bus routes (K1, N8 and E6), and extends the wait between weekend trains to as much as 25 minutes.

Unfortunately, WMATA did not include any other options for the public hearings. Customers can come to complain about the proposed service reductions or about the specific fare increases, but there is no general fare increase option on the table.

Last year, WMATA included a “menu” of options to close the gap, including options for fare increases.

We were strong advocates of the menu approach last year, and hope WMATA will try the approach again, the public should be given some choices when asked how to close the budget gap in a public hearing. The Board should have the WMATA staff include a fare increase of up to 5% as one of the advertised options for closing the gap.

Michael Perkins blogs about Metro operations and fares, performance parking, and any other government and economics information he finds on the Web. He lives with his wife and two children in Arlington, Virginia.