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Fare Increase Basics

The new Metro fares and fees take effect on Sunday, but most riders won't feel the effects until Monday, when they park at rail stations and board rush hour trains.

Fare Charts installed (2).jpg New fare guide posted. (Metro photo)

At the stations, passengers will see new fare charts posted on the vending machines and the station managers' booths. On buses, new decals with updated fare information will be displayed on the fareboxes. Look also for brochures in the stations and on buses that announce the new charges.

These are the increases that affect most riders: A 75 cent increase in the daily parking rate, a 30 to 75 cent increase in the cost of a train ride during rush periods and a 10 cent increase in the bus fare unless the rider pays with a SmarTrip electronic fare card, in which case the cost stays the same. [Readers, I adjusted the max fare increase figure this afternoon. I originally put the figure at 60 cents, rather than 75 cents. Thanks to "Right Winger" for alerting me to the discrepancy in the comments section below. That led me to check various fare increase scenarios on Metro's Trip Planner.]

Here's a link to a page on the Metro Web site that reviews all the changes.

Metro - Gerald Martineau (2).jpg Same train, new price. (Gerald Martineau)

No increases: Fares stay the same for off-peak rail travel and for MetroAccess, the paratransit service for people with disabilities.

Reserved parking: In February, the cost of monthly reserved parking will increase $10 to $55. The Metro board decided not to set aside any more spaces for reserved parking after riders protested that it was though enough to find a non-reserved spot during the morning rush.

Reminder on rush: The rush periods are 5 to 9:30 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Riders also are charged higher fares from 2 to 3 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Bus transfers: Paper transfers will be eliminated. Riders will continue to receive the transfer discounts if they use a SmarTrip card.

SmarTrip for Metrobus: To encourage use of SmarTrip cards, Metro is selling them for a few days at some rail stations near heavily used bus transfer points. The $5 cards can be purchased from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on: Friday at the Minnesota Avenue Station, Monday at Columbia Heights Station, Tuesday at Potomac Avenue, Tuesday at the Union Station, Wednesday at Silver Spring Station, Wednesday at Ballston-MU Station and Thursday at Brookland-CUA Station.

The cards also are available at, Metro sales offices, some Giant grocery stores, commuter stores and vending machines at rail stations that have parking garages and lots.

Free Cards Distributed: Metro has distributed 50,000 SmarTrip cards to social service agencies across the region so they can be given to low-income bus riders. The transit authority wants to shift riders away from using the paper fare cards and cash without penalizing people who might be reluctant to spend $5 for the SmarTrip cards. They'll still have to pay to add fare value to the cards.

Sales Office Closing: Four Metro sales centers are closed for the day on Saturday. These are the ones at Metro Center and at the Northern, Southeastern and Western Metrobus garages. (For routine maintenance, Metro says.) The bus garage sales offices reopen at 9 a.m. Sunday. The Metro Center office reopens at 7:30 a.m. Monday.

Is everybody ready?

By Robert Thomson  |  January 4, 2008; 5:50 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Next: Feeling the Fares?


I currently take the metro from Vienna to the Pentagon at a rush hour rate of $3.40 each way. On Monday the 7th, that rate goes to $4.05, an increase of $0.65. So who's doing the math when Metro officials say the largest increase is only $0.60???

Posted by: Right Winger | January 4, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Metro raises cost of MARC/VRE TransitLink card from $65/mo to $80/mo.

Pssst. Let me fill you in on a little secret. New Metrorail fare between Union Sta. and the majority of the stations located in downtown DC is $1.65 (3.30/RT). Likewise for the L'Enfant Plaza Sta. (VRE) and most downtown stops. If your trips consists only of traveling to and from your office from home (2 trips/day), the monthly charge would be $69.30/mo (assuming 21 work days/mo).

Hmm... $69.30/mo. or $80/mo.? Not a math whiz, and granted the TLC allows for much broader use than simply transit between office and rail station, but I'd take paying a fraction of Metro's increase over the full Monty any day. Did I figure that incorrectly, or is Metro trying to fool multi-system commuters into paying an additional $10/mo. for nothing more than a flimsy piece of paper?

Posted by: Metro Doesn't Want You to Know | January 4, 2008 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Well, metro just did it - made it cheaper for me to drive to work. My metro ride woud be $10.25/day x 5 days =$205 per month. Another car on the road - I wonder how many more there are like me who finally said "enough" with poor service and increasing fares and are forced back to their cars?

Posted by: Back to My Car | January 4, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Has Metro ever adequately answered the question of why they don't treat fares the way other cities like NY do? One flat fee, regardless of destination. Wouldn't that, as the old joke goes, dramatically increase volume so they would make their money? Every time they raise fees, it actually makes me less inclined to use them, since it's almost just as cheap to drive. What metro should do is build massive amounts of parking at their stations so people can actually get there, and charge one relatively low flat fee. Think how many people would actually take the train if they could be assured of parking AND a reasonable train fare. I'm not a rocket scientist, but I can't believe nobody's pushed for this solution. Give us the parking we need, give us reasonable rates, and TONS of people will take the metro, generating all the revenue Metro will ever need.

Posted by: Mark | January 4, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

I noticed that rush hour fares are being extended to 7pm (isn't it currently 6:30pm?). Is rush hour service going to be extended to 7pm or will we have to pay more for a train that comes once every 10 minutes?

Posted by: Andy | January 4, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I'm going to be driving in now too. My daily rate went up to $10.70/day. Driving will be cheaper and I'm betting, a little quicker. As the conductors say repeatedly on my commute, "I regret the inconvenience....."

Posted by: bill in nova | January 4, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm ready to stay in my car. It's quicker for me to get to where I need to go when I need to get there. However, if you live in NY, you have to battle downtown congestion and the trains are running all the time so you can do the trains quicker. Here, they cut back on service, run several 4 car trains that are packed while running an 8-car train dark (meaning no passengers), making people wait up to and beyond 30 minutes during off-peak hours for a chance to get on a train and they want to raise the fares?

Sorry Metro, I was a big proponent, but you just made it so much easier for me to justify not riding. If you like, you can have your SmartTrip card back...for $10 because I require a service and handling fee for being forced to use your card.

Posted by: Jarrod | January 4, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Mark -

The New York Subway system and Metro is an apples to oranges comparison. New York's system is for the most part a downtown city subway. If you're traveling from the suburbs of Connecticut, NJ or Long Island you have to take commuter rail into the city, to the tune of 5-10 dollars one way, plus parking. THEN you pay the flat subway fare to get from the railroad station to your office (no transfers). Metro is a combined system: it's a subway AND a commuter rail system.

And lowering fares will not provide all the revenue the system would need. Metro is at near capacity already. Significantly boosting ridership would require billions of dollars in new construction to handle the crowds.

Posted by: DiamaondJim | January 4, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Even with the fare increase metro is still cheaper. Don't have to pay for gas, parking. and my car insurance is cheaper because i put so few miles on it over the year. But i'd probably pay more to avoid driving anyway.

Posted by: Driving is cheaper? | January 4, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Hey Dr G -

Any news about the issues?

Posted by: Pete | January 4, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

theres nothing wrong with fuzzy math

Posted by: Al Gore | January 4, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Pete, You mean getting our Post commuter page online? This has been frustration to those of us who work on the commuter page and would like to share the information with the immediate world via the Web. It's difficult for our colleagues to convert that Sunday newspaper page to online use, but they are working on it. I don't have a target date yet.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | January 4, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Question: The blue bus is 35 cents w/a paper transfer. What are they going to do?

Posted by: ami | January 4, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Right Winger, I get the same result you do in Trip Planner, do I'm double checking with Metro on the statement about the rush hour fare increases ranging from 30 to 60 cents. Thanks for pointing that out. I find other fare increases over 60 cents as well. For example, when I do Vienna to Metro Center, I get a rush hour fare increase of 70 cents. Greenbelt to Pentagon City goes up 75 cents on Trip Planner.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | January 4, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Dr G -

Sadly no. Got an e-mail from (Arlington Transit), where commuters can make online transit pass purchases for the various local/regional systems, saying essentially that their site was attacked and personal information (username, password, and e-mail address, but not credit card and other payment info) was compromised. They took the site off-line for fixes (very recently went back up). Customers need to offer new passwords for future access to the site, and if anyone used the same password for the the username/e-mail logins on other sites, they should change those passwords too.

Wondering how many people are impacted by this. These folks need to take measures.


Posted by: Pete | January 4, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

The 30-60 cent increase comes from the fact that the base rush hour fare is going up 30 cents (1.35 to 1.65) and the top rush hour fare is going up 60 cents (3.90 to 4.50).

WMATA neglects to note that some trips that were previously not charged the highest rate (like my Union Station to Vienna commute) are now being priced at the highest rate. In my case, that means a 70 cent increase (3.80 to 4.50).

Nice, WMATA.

Posted by: Union Station | January 4, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

agree with union station. my new carrollton to courthouse is going from $3.50 to $4.20. That $.60 mention is a bit disingenous. All rides are not being capped at $.60, just the highest one already ($3.90 to $4.50).

Posted by: new carrollton rider | January 4, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

to Andy: I think rush was always until 7pm (upon entry, not exit). I exit after 7pm and it's still rush.

Posted by: new carrollton rider | January 4, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

When planning my metro trip I noticed this from the wmata website:

Please be advised that Trip Planner itineraries may not account for temporary delays or detours caused by unexpected service disruptions, scheduled maintenance and track work, or adjusted schedules for weekend bus detours. Be sure to check Service Disruptions, News Headlines and Bus Detours to see if any of these might affect your trip. Fares will be 10 cents cheaper when using a SmarTrip card and when the trip includes Metrobus.

Has that always been there, or is it new? What does it mean?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 4, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Hey 1:03 PM,

I think that's a long and confusing way of saying that bus riders who use a SmarTrip card won't be charged the extra dime that other bus riders who use legal tender for the same trip will have to pay as a result of the fare increase. Ride bus and pay w/ SmarTrip - no realized far increase (technically, a 10 cent discount). Ride bus and pay exact change - fare increase (or technically, no discounted fare).

This logic does not apply to Metrorail. Little logic applies at all to Metro these days.

Posted by: answer | January 4, 2008 1:12 PM | Report abuse

What a shocker. Metro is Clintoning, oops, I mean lying, about the fair increase. Let's get real, it's only a matter of time before Metro is running 2-car trains every 40 minutes during rush hour and claiming it's an increase in service. Until every single Metro employee and board member is forced to ride the system from door-to-door we will get no improvement in quality. And let's be clear. It's more important for the employees -- those losers who routinely accost and demean us if we even attempt to invade their space and interrupt their McDonald's lunch and Nintendo Gameboy adventures to ask them a question -- to be forced to ride the system.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 4, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

What about out-of-town visitors who are riding Metro, especially if taking the bus? It doesn't seem to make sense to purchase a Smartrip card, but they will have to pay the $1.35 anew if transferring between buses or from rail to bus, which I guess might add up to the $5 anyway....

Posted by: meg | January 4, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I have seen the past few days that there is at least one Metro employee that rides the train from Springfield-Franconia to the Alexandria Yard. That's right - she gets her own personal train stop and the rest of the riders are forced to be delayed while the train jostles to position itself so that the door aligns with the wooden platform. She then gets out and the train has to get back up to speed on a schedule that her stop/delay isn't even supposed to have. Why is this Metro employee getting personal service when the rest of us are held to Metro's whims/schedule???

As far as the fare increase, I cannot use the language here that would be strong enough to indicate how ticked off I and other riders are at the moment. Come Monday I am hoping that there are others that are going to be as vocal as I am about how we're getting substandard service for outrageous prices. The Metro Board didn't listen to us at the hearings on the subject, so now we're left with only one outlet for our anger - in the stations themselves, expressing our displeasure to employees. I *DARE* any Board Member to publicly make themselves known on Monday in a train station. They'd find themselves in a very uncomfortable position indeed.

Posted by: Woodbridge | January 4, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

A New Yorker.........Will someone explain where all the money goes? I wait on bus route that passes 3 hospitals and some nursing homes and its a half hour wait and then 2 or 3 busses at one. Ill people have to stand, handicapped no seats............
queens, nyc

Posted by: jacques coffe | January 4, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Gridlock,

Any plans to install smart trip faremachines at the bus terminals of metro stations or at bus transit centers with no metro stations? I take metro frequently so I usually have fare on my smartrip card, but I feel like it would be more of a hassel for those who only take the bus (or take the bus but not to metro stations) to add fare. Especially at stations with a long escalator down to get to where farecard machines are located (e.g. Bethesda). And remember that while being able to add fare online by credit card is nice, this isn't always easy for all people, especially those of lower income who would be taking the bus. I bet some of those people can't get online that easily.

Posted by: Laura | January 4, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

My fare increase will be 40 cents each way (80 cents a day), so overall not too bad. However, my metro trip is short enough and my work is flexible enough that I don't have to be in the office until 10 am. I'm considering waiting til 9:30 to board the train to take advantage of the reduced fare. That will save me $7.50 a week. Adds up over the month.

If anyone else has a flexible start time, you may want to consider tring to go in during the off-peak hours. I've actually seen quite a few people who wait at the White Flint metro station for the clock above the station manager's booth to turn to 9:30 to enter the gates to take advantage of the non-peak fare. With the fare increase this really can make a big difference

Posted by: Laura | January 4, 2008 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I've abandoned the trains in favor of the bus. Since I have a SmartTrip card, my bus-only trip will only cost me $2.50/day, roundtrip, and only an extra 20 minutes of my time. The tradeoff is that I get a seat on each bus (no overcrowding), the views of the river, the comfortable seats, and from the second bus to the last bus, I get a nice 5-8 minute walk, which counts as a little movement.
And no, I will not reveal my route.

For those considering jumping back into their cars, please reconsider. Not for the sake of the environment, but for the sake of those like me who have to suffer through traffic behind you all until the bus gets to the HOV ramp. It's not fair that my bus ride is lengthened because y'all have a beef with Metro. The least you could do is carpool, or take one of those suburban commuter buses like OmniRide and the Loudoun County Connector.

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | January 4, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Evening rush hour has ended at 7 p.m. for a long time but not always. In the late 80's, there were people waiting just outside the fare gates when I exited to White Flint at 6:25.

I'll take that farecard and split the $5 charge + amount on the card. My husband and I have been sharing a card because we both take Metro occasionally and I'm usually on the bus. But now I need it on the bus!

Yes, I usually drive because I live in MD and work out on the Orange line where I don't have to PAY to park, or work in DC where my company supplies parking when I need it. Also, a consideration is my time. VA to MD Metro commute takes twice as long as driving.

Posted by: Historian | January 4, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: Pete, Thanks for clarifying for me about today's hack against I also heard about it from Chris Hamilton, chief of commuter services for Arlington County.

Watch for more information this afternoon on, he said in an e-mail.

But he had these things to say for customers:
"Our site was attacked by a hacker and the e-mail address and login information for about 1/3 of our records was exposed. The measures we took included immediately taking the site down, fixing what they exploited and implementing new security measures including making sure that all customers have to change their login information in order to use the system."

"We also recommended that if folks used similar login information on other sites that they change it there too. We can say with certainty that no financial or personal information was obtained as our security professionals quickly detected and averted the attack. We sent an email to all our customers with this information."

Posted by: Robert Thomson | January 4, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

get back in your cars and out of my armpit!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 4, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Look. It's very simple. The Metro employees don't care about the riders. All they care about are their union benefits and being allowed to work as little as possible for the maximum amount of pay. They're leeches, plain and simple. Listen to them talk when they get in their little groups and refuse to respond to paying customers. Metro employees are the rudest, most incompetent human beings I have ever encountered (and that is an insult to other human beings, I realize). I have been personally insulted by them so many times that I have lost count. And you can complain all you want. They just laugh in your face because they know they have a job for life. It's sickening. We need the equivalent of Ronald Reagan to come in and fire them all like he did with the air-traffic controllers. These arrogant, do-nothing Metro employees need to be selling pencils on the street corner. Plain and simple.

Posted by: antipATRICK | January 4, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

To give you one particular example. I attempted to exit at Metro Center one afternoon, but my farecard had apparently become demagnitized. I went to the Metro employee in the booth (who was "deep" in conversation with two other Metro employees who apparently had nothing better to do) and explained that my fare card would not work. His exact response was "Sucks for you, don't it". The other two got a good laugh out of that.

Posted by: antipATRICK | January 4, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I so badly want to tell you the real reason why the Metro employees ignore people who ask for help, but if I did, it would open a huge can of worms. And although I'm usually the first one to reach for the proverbial can opener, I'd rather not do so this time.

All I'm going to say is that sooner or later, whether you realize it or think its fair, what goes around comes around.

Don't try to think about it or guess what I mean.* You'll have plenty of time to ponder it while sitting in the traffic on Monday. Speaking of which, if enough people abandon Metro for their cars from now on, DC traffic will be the one thing that goes around but never comes around.

*The intelligent-at-heart and enlightened people will have already figured out what I was trying to graciously avoid.

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | January 4, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

race war?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Here's the biggest adsurdity to me--what happened this morning to coin-op parking in Rockville.

Rockville Metro Station has a 500-space standard lot and a separate 200-space coin op lot. The coin op lot is further from the station, requires walking across a busy street, and of course accepting the hassle of using coins. In exchange for that you got a modest discount on daily parking compared to the regular lot--at 25 cents for 45 minutes a 10 hour day worked out to $3.50 rather than $4.00 in the regular lot. Market incentives worked well, with at least 100 of us loyally using the coin lot and freeing a corresponding number of spaces in the regular lot.

Well, so much for that. At 25 cents for 15 minutes in the coin op lot effective today, those 200 spaces are now officially useless for daily commuters. Way to price an asset so as to actively discourage use, Metro. We coin-op folks will now all pile into the regular lot, displacing those who customarily arrived later.

Meanwile, over on the coin-op side, it would not surprise me at all if Metro takes in less revenue under this regime than it did at the old fare.

Do I think anyone will monitor this and adjust the situation if use of total spaces and total payback on assets are less under the new regime than the old? Let's just say I am not holding my breath.

Posted by: Frustrated in Rockville | January 7, 2008 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Laura -- you can add value to your smartrip on any metrobus. Just be sure to be the last one on so you don't hold everyone else up, since the machines aren't that intuitive

Posted by: CBGB | January 7, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

CBGB, yes I know you can, I just have no idea how to (and I'm guessing lots of other people do not either). To me it would seem much more efficient to be able to do it before you board the bus. You would not hold up the line, you wouldn't hold up the bus driver (they really aren't suppose to start driving until people have moved back) and safer as you really aren't suppose to be standing in front of that yellow line while the bus is moving (many bus drivers do start driving while you are putting fair into the box, I'm sure they would if you are taking a minute to add fare).

It just seems if they really want everyone to switch to the smartrip (which I agree is great), then metro should provide ample locations to add fare (that do not require the inconvience of going to another location to do).

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