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Metrobus Didn't Know About Code Red Day

Today is a Code Red alert day, in anticipation of unhealthy levels of ozone in the air, so many local buses are free. But Metro says it didn't know that until the morning rush had already begun, and people were paying the regular fare for rides that should have been free.

This is what I heard from one rider in Montgomery County:
"Despite what has been reported on your blog, Channel 4 and Montgomery County, I was made to pay fare on this morning's J9 bus between Lakeforest and Bethesda, even though I told the driver that this being a Code Red day, fares were not supposed to be charged.

"Although I did not take down the driver's name, the bus number is 6213 and it left Lakeforest at 6:20 AM. I was told I had to pay fare "or else." When I called Metro's customer information line, I was told that no decision had yet been made and that I would have to pay fare.

"For me, the issue is much more than $1.25. It's the principle. If Montgomery County is subsidizing (with my hard earned tax dollars) bus routes on Ozone Alert days, why is Metro collecting thousands of dollars in fares for which it is not entitled to receive. If this has been done on the bus I was riding, how many other Metrobuses in Montgomery Country are charging riders in such a fashion."
Michael Sheib

Most Metrobuses in the surburbs should be free today, because the suburban jurisdictions subsidize the free rides. (The District doesn't participate in the program.)

Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said in an e-mail that the transit authority was not notified until 7:28 a.m. that it was a Code Red day. "As a result, we were charging fares on all buses in MD and VA. Once we got the word, we started calling all of our bus operators and telling them not to accept fares."

He said that Metro is trying to figure out what went wrong in the notification process.

[Join me at 1 p.m. for an online discussion of all our local transportation issues. You can submit a question or comment in advance by using this link.]

By Robert Thomson  |  June 9, 2008; 11:02 AM ET
Categories:  Weather  
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