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Metro considers fare increase

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KWMU.
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Metrolink.

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

St. Louis, MO. – Mass transit officials are expected to approve a plan Friday to hold public hearings on a proposal to raise bus and light rail fares.

Metro officials say rising fuel costs are driving the proposed increase. But others question Metro's explanation.

Barbara Black is president of the Service Employees International Union Local 2000. Most of her union's 4,700 members use mass transit.

She believes Metro is trying to recoup losses it incurred in building the Metrolink cross-county extension.

"With this acceleration of costs or someone underestimated the costs again, these increases are impacting the pockets of the poor," Black said.

Metro spokeswoman Diane Williams says the spiking cost of diesel fuel, from about 60 cents per gallon last summer to nearly a $1.60 now, is prompting them to consider the fare hikes. The exact amount is still undetermined.

Williams says the perception that Metro would raise fares to make up cost overruns in the Cross County Metrolink extension is unfounded.

"I think that because people are paying for fuel at the pumps themselves, they really do believe us that our costs are going up," Williams said. "They are two separate budgets, and both of them are
being carved as bare bones as we can."

The board will decide on the proposal in late June after several public hearings.

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