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Metro reviewing fare principles

Riders want the Metro fare system to be simpler and more flexible, said Carol Kissal, Metro's finance chief, reporting to a Metro board committee this morning on the results of focus groups with riders. The board is reviewing what it refers to as its fare principles, the guidelines it tries to follow in setting fares and fare policy.

Other results of the focus groups, according to Kissal:
-- The fare structure is too complicated.
-- Fare charts are difficult to understand
-- Distance-based fares are too complex, although riders supported the concept.
-- The riders didn't like the new peak-of-the-peak surcharge.
-- They do like daily and weekly passes
-- They like SmarTrip but want Metro to make it easier to get cards and add value.

The transit staff is trying to assess the impact of the summertime fare increases. Part of the review will see if the impact suggests that more changes are needed in the overall fare policy.

These are some of the policy changes under consideration:
-- Develop fares so they are easily understandable.
-- Charge fares relative to level of service.
-- Optimize use of the system's capacity.
-- Get the most revenue while getting the maximum ridership.
-- Make it easier for people to move from one transit system to another within the region.
-- Encourage use of cost effective and efficient fare media (SmarTrip cards and fare cards).
-- Ensure fares comply with federal regulations.

The board's finance committee is discussing the proposed changes, and board members are discussing their concerns.

For example, the wording of the proposed policy principle stating that Metro would adjust its fares to the level of service caused some concern for board Chairman Peter Benjamin.

"We don't tie fares to service and we never have," said Benjamin. What he's thinking of is the many riders who ask why they should pay peak fares at times when they think they're not getting Metro's best service.

Catherine Hudgins, chairman of the board's finance committee, said she was not sure the board needed to articulate the way it charges fares in the fare principles. The board committee struck that language in favor of stating the principle that it would "establish equitable fares."

The proposals on changing the fare principles will now be reviewed by the full Metro board. Today's review was not connected to any discussion of increasing fares or modifying them. The board is just taking another look at the guiding principles it wants to apply when it does engage in such discussions.

By Robert Thomson  | November 4, 2010; 9:50 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock  
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"Charge fares relative to level of service."
So I guess Metro is going to be extremely cheap or free?

Every time metro fares go up the service goes down and I strongly believe there is a correlation there. Honestly if you lower fares and provide better service you can get more people riding which will mean more money.

Get people at the top of Metro who can do a good job and pay them a tiny salary instead of these ridiculous salaries like what Richard A. White is still getting and what Sarles is currently getting. Anything over 35,000 a year is too much. It is not like they are truly keeping Metro running, that is the drivers and the maintenance crews and too an extent the station managers. Also if they eliminated most of the transit police they could get some more cash. It's not like those cops really do a whole lot other than protect the cash trains and sit around in their Suburbans or occasionally stand at stations talking with station managers or on extremely rare occasions get involved when something usually minor happens.

Seriously are fares going to be free because that would be great especially with the beyond poor service lately.

Posted by: freedomjusticesolidarity | November 5, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Why can't they just figure the cost PER TRAIN, then figure out how many non-standing people said train will service, then charge an amount per person to satisfy that cost? Other transit systems cost 50-75% less than the DC Metro system.

Why are people paying 5 dollars each way plus 4.50 for parking when you usually get .5 square feet of personal standing room only space where you can't read a book let alone use an iPad or laptop, and if you do manage to find a seat still don't because it's too small and because you're probably going to get robbed?

You can drive. If you use 1 gallon of gas each way, that's about 6 dollars per day as opposed to 14 for metro. If you can find monthly parking for 8 dollars a day (40 a week, 160 a month) you can break even (assuming you have to drive to metro in the first place and you commute the maximum distance during peak of the peak, which is a lot of people). And when you drive, you don't have to get groped by that guy who hasn't showered in a week.

I know people have figured this equation out, because traffic into DC is HORRIBLE. Why don't people just take the Metro? Because Metro costs a ton and even if more people ride, they won't send any more trains.

They didn't even increase trains for the rally last Saturday, then suggested that somehow they were able to service every person who entered the system and thus had record ridership. I Smartipped in, waited 30 minutes for a train that wasn't packed to the gills, and Smartripped out for a 0 mile trip that cost me 2 bucks.

Metro needs to completely revamp itself. Charge the same rate for all times of the day, charge the same rate for every trip regardless of distance traveled, have enough trains so that during peak hours only one third of all riders have to stand and finally, substantially increase parking at the outer stations and make it free to use. It will cost a fortune in the short term, but it is the only option for saving the Metro system and solving the transit crisis that grips DC.

Posted by: moriartyjd | November 5, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse

I'd pretty much agree with most of moriartyjd's comments. When I moved to DC I initially wanted to ride the metro.

Then I realized that on a good day it can easily take me 1 1/2 hours or longer to get to work because I have to get to the metro station, wait on a train which may take 20-30 minutes depending on the time of day, switch trains, possibly waiting another 15 or 20 minutes and then walk to work from the end station. Then on the weekends (because yes many people actually have to work weekends, holidays, and shift work)I had to wait for an hour for metro to even open up and an additional 30 minutes for the first train so that I could get home from work in the morning making my transit time more like 2 1/2 hours or more. Where as driving only takes about oooh 30-45 minutes..

As if all that isn't bad enough, my trip cost about 3-4 bucks each way. I was fortunate enough to have it paid for by my employer. However for people who aren't so lucky, depending on what they make they may end up having to work an hour a day just to pay for their transit. Especially if they pay for parking too.

Make the metro cheaper with one standard fare or even sell a monthly pass for people who use it all the time. Run more cars and keep it open later/earlier, and make it reliable so that people don't get stuck waiting an hour for trains when only one track is working. Then maybe you'll get more riders.

Also, consider getting rid of the current turnstyles and replace them with something that people can't just jump over. Something with a more reliable card or coin operated turnstyle with one base price for riding. Then you won't need the little people sitting in the booths, since they don't really do much anyway. Many other cities manage to make their metro systems more automated with less employees so surely it can be done.

Posted by: aissedei | November 5, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

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