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Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 07/12/2009

Where Metro Could Find Revenue

By Marisa Katz

By Jay Labov

So Metro has closed a budget gap by making $81 million in internal spending cuts, including eliminating jobs and cutting bus service in Maryland and Virginia, rather than seeking to increase revenue. I disagree with this approach. Other transit systems have found ways to obtain additional money from occasional users; I think that Metro should also consider such approaches.

For example, Atlanta's MARTA system has designated one price for a trip from the airport to downtown for all users.

However, if you are not a regular commuter on MARTA and you buy a single ticket, the system charges an extra 50 cents to print the ticket. I think that Metro could adopt a similar strategy. Currently the fare for a single ride in the downtown area is $1.65. That fare could remain the same for people who use SmarTrip cards but might be raised to $2 for people purchasing a paper Farecard. The difference in price might encourage more regular users to switch to SmarTrip cards, reducing the cost to Metro for purchasing and issuing the paper cards and speeding passage of customers through the entry and exit gates.

For occasional users such as the thousands of tourists who use Metro every day, the 35-cent difference would hardly be noticed, and it might actually be easier for Metro users to pay that amount using paper money rather than worrying about handling coins. The additional revenue stream to Metro would be sizable.

By Marisa Katz  | July 12, 2009; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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