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Metro could apply core charge

The Metro board has a couple of options on the peak of the peak fare surcharge that it plans to consider on Thursday. On Tuesday, we discussed the basic idea: a special charge tacked on during Metrorail's busiest hour and a half in the morning and in the afternoon. But the transit staff also has given the board several ways to apply the surcharge based on geography.

Core concept
The basic peak of the peak plan would apply to riders anywhere in the system, but the variations would limit the damage to riders using the most congested part of the system. Here's how it could work.
-- Apply the surcharge to riders exiting these core stations in the morning peak of the peak (7:30-9 a.m.) or entering them in the afternoon peak of the peak (4:30-6 p.m.). This would affect 21 stations 23 stations in the District and Virginia. Of those stations, Metro says, 17 19 have the top usage during the morning rush. [Metro did a recount on the numbers.] Add in four others -- Arlington Cemetery, Mount Vernon Square, Waterfront and Pentagon City -- for the sake of continuity. So the outer boundaries of the core surcharge zone would be Mount Vernon Square, Dupont Circle, Rosslyn, Crystal City, Navy Yard, Capitol South and Union Station.
-- Apply the surcharge to all riders going to or through the congested core. Under this variation, some stations drop out of the calculation: Capitol South, Crystal City, Pentagon City, Dupont Circle, Federal Center SW.

The Metro financial staff has two main goals in offering all these peak of the peak options: Spread out the ridership and make enough money to balance the budget. They've got to balance the budget. That's their job. But the board members can consider jurisdictional politics. You can be sure board members have counted how many core stations their constituents use.

But the transit staff has provided a useful breakdown of the practical and financial considerations.

If you charge all riders traveling at the peak of the peak, you capture revenue from all riders and the fare adjustment is relatively easy to implement. But it affects all riders and loses some of the congestion pricing elements intended to change riders' behavior. For example, even riders traveling during the morning peak from Bethesda to Shady Grove or from Georgia Avenue to Greenbelt -- not really crowded trips -- would have to pay the surcharge.

If you limit the surcharge to travel in the congested core, you are charging the riders who put the heaviest demands on the system's capacity. But the staff acknowledges that this core concept is harder for riders to understand than the blanket surcharge, and may make them even angrier than they are now.

One thing that tends to tamp down rage about fare increases: About 40 percent of the commuters are federal employees, who can get a subsidy to pay for their trips. Riders who express a public opinion tend to favor the fare increases over the proposed service cuts.

What's your opinion? If you have to pay a peak of the peak surcharge, would you rather it be a blanket charge or targeted to the congested core? If you're a Metro rider, please share whether your current trips are during the peak of the peak and where you board and exit.

By Robert Thomson  |  May 12, 2010; 3:24 PM ET
Categories:  Metro , Transportation Politics , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, metrorail  
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Comments

Personally, I like the first version...apply only to those going to or from the core stations.

However, I will admit being biased as I sometimes ride from Woodley Park to West Falls Church. Honestly, for the sake of fairness, why shouldn't I pay the surcharge, since I'm certainly using the Metro Center station...just not entering or exiting.

Posted by: thetan | May 12, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

It's surprising that the Pentagon station isn't in the top 17.

Posted by: Cosmo06 | May 12, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Scrap the fare changes and scrap Metro Access while we're at it.

Make the Access users use cabs like everybody else.

Simple.

Posted by: bs2004 | May 12, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I like the first version as well. I think that this will help prevent losing riders who currently ride a few stops in just the suburbs to reach their distination. I'm thinking trips like Shady Grove to Bethesda or Glenmont to Silver Spring.

It's not as expensive (most of the time) to park in the suburban cities as it is in DC so if Metro fares increase, I fear more people will stop using metro and return to their cars. I think this might help mitigate that and hopefully keep more cars off the road. I do wish there was some facet that this only applied to people who are travling from outside the core area into the core area. I don't think people should be punished for living close to work and people traveling. So someone who lives in Dupont Circle and travels to Gallery Place for work gets punished even though they live only 3 metro stops from their destination.

I am biased though since I live near Glenmont and work in Bethesda. I take a bus from Glenmont to White Flint Station and then take the train from White Flint to Bethesda. The increase for the three stops I travel everyday has me concerned enough that I am considering finally biting the bullet and getting a car. Even paying for parking in Bethesda, gas, car payments, etc. is starting to look cheaper (and much faster) than relying on public transit. And I've always been a huge public transit/metro advocate so that's saying something.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | May 12, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Scrap the fare changes and scrap Metro Access while we're at it.

Make the Access users use cabs like everybody else.

-------------------------

Illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Next!

Posted by: thetan | May 12, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I am a huge advocate of public transportation and I not opposed to the peak of the peak surcharge for heavily used stations but I want things in return for the extra costs. Like operational escalators 95% of the time. It would be helpful if they added another exit to Foggy Bottom to alleviate some of the congestion in that station and while they are at it addding an undgerground walkway tunnel to connect Farragut West and Farragut North would be some of the long term capital planning projects that I think would be helpful. and of course...SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY...I girl can dream right??!!!

Posted by: Famke | May 12, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I am a huge advocate of public transportation and I not opposed to the peak of the peak surcharge for heavily used stations but I want things in return for the extra costs. Like operational escalators 95% of the time. It would be helpful if they added another exit to Foggy Bottom to alleviate some of the congestion in that station and while they are at it addding an undgerground walkway tunnel to connect Farragut West and Farragut North would be some of the long term capital planning projects that I think would be helpful. and of course...SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY...I girl can dream right??!!!

Posted by: Famke | May 12, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I already ride at 6am & 3pm so that I can get a seat - VA, Orange line, Dunn Loring to MacPherson Square. I don't mind either approach to the increase, since I won't be affected, except on rare occasions. I'm actually hoping to start telecommuting later this year, which I hope keeps me off the trains all but one day a week.

Posted by: --sg | May 12, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

This proposal confuses me.

I start in VA and go to MD. So let's say someone boards at Virginia Square, Clarendon, or Court House, and disembarks at, say, Rhode Island Avenue or Silver Spring.

That passenger is taking up room on the train in the "core" and is one of the reasons no-one can get on at Rosslyn or Foggy Bottom. But that passenger won't be charged?

I mean, me and my $3.55 or $3.65 (currently; expecting it to increase) -each-way ride certainly don't mind *not* paying more but it surprises me.

Posted by: EtoilePB | May 12, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

As someone who commutes from Herndon to downtown, even with the increases it'll still be more economical than driving. So, I'm among those who agree that I'd rather have a fare increase than decreased service (which I think would be a downward spiral).

Wild Idea: Have an extra car on the peak trains with reserved seats at a premium fare (and an attendant to prevent misuse). I remember riding the trains in Britain and sincerely appreciating having a first-class pass during rush hour periods. I'd bet there are people who'd pay this premium to have a guaranteed seat and no crowding; Metro would get the extra revenue for just adding an extra car to the train. Just a thought....

Posted by: Andrew53 | May 13, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

One thing that tends to tamp down rage about fare increases: About 40 percent of the commuters are federal employees, who can get a subsidy to pay for their trips.

------

OF COURSE THEY DON'T CARE -- THEY DON'T PAY FOR IT. WE DO. THIS IS AN OUTRAGE THAT THEY ARE GOING TO INCREASE THE FARES BECAUSE OF INCOMPETENCE ESPECIALLY THE UNION EMPLOYEES. I PAY 100% OF MY FARE AND THIS WILL AFFECT ME GREATLY. THERE IS NO NEED FOR A FARE INCREASE. THE UNION CONTRACTS MUST BE RE-NEGOTIATED AS PERSONAL COSTS ARE OUT OF CONTROL!

Posted by: yetanotherpassword | May 13, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

The fact that Metro is trying to capture the money from the 40% of federal employees that get subsidies they don't use is ridiculous and short-sighted! Oh, they think we forgot the system was built for the Feds in the first place. What about the 60% that don't work for the government?! What about those who don't have flexibility in their hours? You are penalizing parents that must pick up children by 6pm. Metro acts as if there schedule is the only one that matters. With the commute getting longer, more crowding on the train, and now the fare increase, driving is actually looking more attractive each year. Now I see why so many mothers I know drive.

Posted by: koffey | May 13, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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