Demand pricing isn't right for Metro
By Alice Cave
Samuel R. Staley failed to take some key points into account in presenting his ideas about demand pricing for Metro [“A $40 million crisis that Metro can’t afford to waste,” Local Opinions, Jan. 10]. Charging lower fares at lesser-used stations will not change most riders’ behavior. Riders choose trains that go to their destinations. I ride a bus to the Pentagon each day to catch the Blue Line to McPherson Square, where my office is located. Having lower fares on the Green Line won’t change my behavior, since that line does not stop anywhere near my office.
Metro lines are fixed routes, which is why the comparison to toll lanes on highways does not really work. It is much easier to alter your route in a car. For most people, getting to work during rush hour is not a “convenience,” as Mr. Staley put it, but a necessity resulting from their work schedules.
Which leads me to my final point: Part of the reason for having public transportation options such as Metro trains and buses is to get people out of their cars. This is why Metro ridership should be encouraged. Jacking up rates on the most-used lines at the busiest times rather than raising them evenly across the system will have the effect of alienating riders — and encouraging them to get back into their cars.
If the choice is between fare increases and service cuts, I am for fare increases. But Virginia, Maryland and the District need to start looking at Metro as a way to ease their traffic problems and make meaningful contributions to the system’s operational funding.
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