This should shock precisely no one, but WMATA is expressing some concern that riders are actually using their farecards until they’re empty. WMATA was hoping to use the $11M in unused fare-dollars for other budgetary purposes next year, but the rise in SmarTrip card usage (upwards of 70% on rail and 60% bus, now!), and the recession that has people keeping their farecards and reloading them, even when they have less than a fare on them. Metro had been tapping up to 5% of fares as a slush fund of sorts useful for paying small deficits, but with fewer farecards in use, their accountants are recommending only 3% of fares be used in that manner.
There are internal proposals at Metro to raise fares up to 15% to cover the budget gap.