04/10/2012 09:45 am ET

Metro Unlimited Monthly Pass To Be Considered By Transit Agency's Finance Committee (POLL)

WASHINGTON -- Later this week, Metro may get one-step closer to a revamped fare structure that includes a 28-day unlimited pass for use with electronic SmarTrip cards. Members of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's finance committee will meet on Thursday to discuss Metro's revised fiscal 2013 budget proposal.

Bus, rail and MetroAccess fares would increase. And as The Washington Post reports, the plan includes a new 28-day pass that would allow riders to travel across Metro's rail and bus systems for $230 per month.

The Washington Examiner notes that one earlier controversial proposal -- charging a $6 flat one-way rate for riders not using SmarTrip cards -- has fallen by the wayside since originally proposed by Metro General Manager Richard Sarles in January.

Greater Greater Washington examined unlimited passes in a February blog post, saying that an all-encompassing pass requires careful considerations.

...[T]he pass needs to be well-designed if it's going to succeed. A good pass system needs to work on SmarTrip, offer price levels that would work for many commuters, and provide enough of a discount to be worthwhile.

On Monday, Metro announced a more favorable budget environment going into the new fiscal year, saying that expenses were cut and revenue projections have increased, reducing the agency's operating need.

But fare increases are still needed -- just not as severe as once thought for Metrorail and Metrobus riders. Users of the MetroAccess paratransit service, who would see a big jump in fares, have said the increases they're facing are too severe.

Any changes to Metro's fare structure would go into effect in the new fiscal year, which starts in July.

POLL: What to you think?