Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Paying More to Ride The 42

Ouch. I was ready to pay more to ride Metro rain and bus. I knew that in this economy, with governments less willing to dedicate more to transit (and other projects), and transit less willing to expand services, well, we could be in for a rough ride here in DC.

Metro's board of directors recently voted to increase the cost of most basic services such as parking, Metro access, rail fare, and yes, bus fare. Everyone will pay more on June 27th than they did the previous week for essentially the same trips. (The peak of the peak fares won't take effect until August 2, however.)

A few examples:

Let's say you live in Mount Pleasant and take the Metro from Columbia Heights to work near L'Enfant Plaza. Today, you'd pay $1.80 for that trip starting at say, 8:00am. On teh way home at 5:00pm, you'll pay the same, $1.80.

On August 2nd at 8:00am you'll pay $2.20, an increase of over 20%. And at 5:00pm, the same $2.20 for the return trip. Do that five times a week, four weeks a month and you'll be paying $88.00 per month to commute to work. Today those same trips would cost you $72.00. Nothing to sneeze at. Much of the increase is due to a new surcharge called "peak of the peak." It's an extra charge on top of the rush hour fare that targets commuters who ride during the busiest periods. The Washington Post has a great tool to examine how much your rail commute will increase under the new fares.

If you ride the bus to work, your fares will rise, too. There are no special rush hour or peak of the peak charges, but a bus trip will cost you $1.50 with a Smartrip card, opposed to $1.35 now. If you use cash under the new fares you'll pay $1.70. If you take the express buses to Dulles (5A) or BWI (B30) airports, you'll now pay $6.00, up from $3.10. There are many other changes. Here's a PDF of the new fare structure from Metro, including increases for Metro Access and bike locker rental.

I do support the increase. It will hurt in the pocketbook or me personally, but I support it. And I do believe Metro can provide the same level of service, I think that they'll have to work really hard to do that. And we won't be seeing an increase in service or product any time soon. Yes, the rail to Dulles is being completed as we speak (first phase anyway). But, that segment is still years from opening and to be honest, I really want Metro to get it right (i.e. SAFE and best value for the fare) with the system we have now and continuing with that ethos while expanding. Progress, yes, but smart, measured progress.