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Metro posts online survey

In advance of the public hearings that begin Monday, the transit authority is asking people to take an online survey about the budget options. The results of the survey will become part of the public record presented to the Metro board members in April before they make their decisions about fare increases and service cuts.

Here's a link to the survey. Metro also has posted a detailed set of directions to the six public hearings. And here's a new page showing the fare and service proposals in several languages. If you want to send your comments to Metro online, you can do that, too. The e-mail address is By snail, the address is: Office of the Secretary, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 600 Fifth St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. Comments must be received by April 6.

The online survey should take five to 10 minutes to complete, Metro says. I gave you the quick link above. It lets you go page by page through the many choices before the board, starting with the three basic options:

1. How should Metro address its budget deficit?
-- Adopt the general manager's proposed fare increases and service cuts. See that plan.
-- Adopt fare increases that require no service cuts. See that plan.
-- With the actions I specify in the remainder of this survey. (Then you click "next" and go through them.)

If you want to have the whole survey in front of you, this link will take you to a 15-page pdf.

Talk about getting in on the ground floor: You can basically build your own budget while the board members are doing the same.

David Alpert has done something like that in this posting on his Greater Greater Washington blog. Alpert, who also is among the leaders of the Metro Riders' Advisory Council, accepts the challenge of selecting among all the many options rather than just checking off for General Manager John B. Catoe Jr.'s original proposal or the version that maximizes fare increases to offset service cuts. (Alpert says he threw his choices together quickly and reserves the right to amend them on review.)

One plunge I'll take that Alpert still has not decided on: I'll go for cutting the transfer time from three hours to two. I go for this because of the concept: It's a "transfer," not a free-ride or discount coupon. Alpert's hesitation is totally legit: He notes that Metro staff think there would be a big ridership loss. Here and elsewhere, the staff and the board have to calculate how many riders -- and how much revenue -- would be lost from any fare increase or service cut.

By Robert Thomson  |  March 19, 2010; 3:41 PM ET
Categories:  Metro , Transportation Politics  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metro budget, Metrobus, Metrorail  
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Link to the survey is broken - :(

Posted by: DCista | March 19, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Sorry about that DCista. It's fixed now.

Michael Bolden
Development &
Transportation Editor

Posted by: boldenm | March 19, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

The "transfer" concept on bus to bus was actually changed a number of years ago when paper "transfers" were still issued. There used to be requirements that you had to be at a "transfer point," "stop overs" were prohibited and you were not permitted to make a return trip.

This was ended about 10 years ago and the paper transfer became essentially a "pass" for a specified time period. Before the change the transfer period was 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours. After the change it was 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

These changes were made specifically to encourage bus ridership and it worked. When paper transfers were eliminated, the time period on Smartrip was extended to 3 hours because of the difficulty of programming 2 1/2 hours, the way I understand it.

Changing the bus-bus "transfer" period from 3 hours to 2 hours generates about $4 million in revenue, but costs 3.4 million lost passenger trips per year according to WMATA. Contrast that to a $0.10 increase in a peak-of-the-peak rail fare that generates $5 million and only loses 0.4 million trips.

Posted by: kreeggo | March 21, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm completely behind the change back to a 2-hour window for transfers. I'd be affected more than most commuters, since I use buses all day long. I'd want to know exactly how WMATA calculates the potential ridership losses for this one.

Here's a different idea, which also would affect me more than most commuters: change the transfer window to be more like the paper transfers were. With paper, you had 2 hours, and then you had to pay another bus fare. With SmarTrip, you pay once, and as long as you hop another bus before your 3 hours is up, the "clock" gets reset every trip. On occasion, I've ridden all over Fairfax and Montgomery Counties all day for a single bus fare! That's absurd.

I don't know how many people would actually be affected by the latter change, but if it really is a lot, then keep the 3-hour window to offset some of the pain.

Posted by: jeffq | March 21, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

The link to the survey is "encountering problems" again.

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | March 21, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

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