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Now you KNEW that those service cuts were just grandstanding on Metro’s part…

April 30, 2010, 10:49 PM

I was saying it all along, that the proposed Metro service cuts were just grandstanding in order for the public to support a big fare increase. And the public took the bait – hook, line, and sinker. And now it looks like the riders will be forced to eat most of Metro’s budget shortfall. I cringe when I think about what my commute will cost once this fare increase goes into effect. I already pay $9.90 for a day’s commuting with Metro’s “temporary” ten-cent increase in effect. And with this increase being “the largest fare increase in its history” according to The Washington Post, it’s going to cost a lot to get from my house to the office and back.

Now one thing that I find interesting is that one of the options on the table is a $4.00 flat fee for late night service on weekends. I’ve been saying for a while that Metro needs to implement a flat fare for the rail system. Most other rail systems are like that, including the New York Subway. Ride anywhere, and it costs the same amount. It would make figuring out your fare so much easier, and eliminate all the large signage about fares that have to be individualized for each station. All you have to say is “Peak fare is $3.50” and “Off-peak fare is $2.50” (pulling these numbers out of the air here for purposes of illustration) and you’re done. Load $7 or $5 for a round trip, and you’ve got it, regardless of where you’re going. Of course, if Metro Board member and DC councilman Jim Graham has his way, there won’t even be a late-night flat fare.

Graham wants to charge “peak of the peak” fares, where rush hour commuters pay even more than they already do. I consider the rush hour fare already bordering on outrageous, and a peak-of-the-peak fare just adds insult to injury. However, it still costs less than driving to work, since the monthly parking pass at my office costs $230 a month, plus the cost of gas. Then there are those intangible things, like stress from dealing with traffic, and having to go through approximately 65 different traffic lights between my house and the office, all of which are red when I’m in a hurry. Plus one can sleep on the Metro (and I do nap on the way home most days), and you can’t do that when you drive. Sleeping behind the wheel will get you a very expensive ride – to the mortuary – but it’s not like you’ll be in any state to enjoy it.

Of course, you do realize that the various jurisdictions need to pony up a bit more for this than they do. Metro is a public good, and therefore everyone should help fund it, since its provision benefits all (because if I’m taking Metro, I’m not in my car, which means that you don’t have me around to cut off while trying to make that left turn). Regional sales tax, anyone? After all, everyone has to eat, and a few cents on the dollar to benefit your local mass-transit systems isn’t that much to ask.

Meanwhile, I would love to see it if Metro actually made good on their service cuts. I would love it because heads would really start to roll then. I could imagine a huge backlash, with more than a few politicians getting thrown out of office should that happen, and the new people running on a transit-related platform and getting Metro the funding it needs from a multitude of sources, rather than having the riders pony up for huge fare increases. Yes, heads would probably roll then.

Now, though, I guess it’s time to figure out what I need to change my SmartBenefits contribution to in light of these fare increases…

Web site: The Washington Post reports on what's set to change

Song: Metro, then and now

Quote: Meanwhile, I had Alstom 6000 coming home from work today, and noticed that some of the paint on the front window frames was starting to come off. Those cars are going to look like the 5000-Series with their worn-off paint before you know it.

Categories: WMATA