The Sun reported incorrectly yesterday that riders on th Baltimore Metro pay only the base fare. In fact, fares are based on distance traveled.
The Sun regrets the error.
The 350,000 daily riders of Mass Transit Administration buses and the Baltimore Metro would have to pay another 10 cents per trip beginning March 3, under a fare increase proposed yesterday by the MTA.
Ronald J. Hartman, the MTA administrator, said an increase in the base fare from $1 to $1.10 was needed to keep revenues in pace with inflation. State law requires the MTA to reap 50 percent of its annual $140 million-per-year operating costs from fare box receipts.
FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION
Bus riders pay the base fare to board and pay additional fares for transfers and travel between MTA zones. Baltimore Metro riders pay only the base fare.
The proposed increase will be the subject of seven public hearings and must be approved by the secretary of transportation. The MTA is proposing no increase in the cost of transfers or interzone travel.
Initially, Mr. Hartman said, the MTA does not plan to increase the $38.50 cost of a monthly transit pass, which entitles purchasers to unlimited rides.
"We want to encourage the solid base of customers who ride the MTA on a regular basis to stay with us," he said. Depending on revenue in coming months, he added, the cost of the pass might not rise until the next general fare increase.
The March 3 fare increase would be the third in about 4 1/2 years. The base fare rose from 75 cents to 90 cents in November 1986 and from 90 cents to $1 in December 1989.
The number of riders using mass transit has fallen about 1 percentsince the base fare rose to $1, Mr. Hartman said. But he said he was unsure whether the dip was the result of rising fares or was caused by other factors, such as the weak economy and growing unemployment.
"When unemployment goes up, our ridership goes down," MrHartman said.
The administrator said the 10-cent increase was part of a recenstrategy by the MTA to implement small fare increases on a roughly annual basis, rather than large increases every few years. Riders, he said, find it easier to adjust to the smaller increases.
He said the cost of a year's fuel would rise by $2 million for his
agency because of the Persian Gulf crisis. But he said most of the extra cost had been absorbed by trimming spending in other areas. The 10-cent increase, he said, generally would cover a 5 percent rise in the overall cost of operation.
Public hearings on the increase will be held on the following schedule:
* Anne Arundel County: 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 29; Robert Pascal Senior Citizens Center, 125 Dorsey Road, Glen Burnie.
* Harford County: 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29; Bel Air Elementary School Media Center, 30 E. Lee St., Bel Air.
* Baltimore: noon-2 p.m. and 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30; War Memorial Building, 101 N. Gay St.
* Baltimore County: noon-2 p.m. and 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31; County Council Hearing Room, Old Court House, 400 Washington Ave., Towson.
* Howard County: 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31; George Howard Building, Banneker Room, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City.