Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 05/25/2010

Metro isn't the NYC subway, Part 1

By David Alpert
LOCAL BLOG NETWORK

Metro's fare structure came in for some criticism in The Post recently. A Sunday editorial argues that bus fares need to rise, while Dr. Gridlock says they are too complicated.

Both cite other systems, including New York's, where all rides in the five boroughs, on rail, bus or a combination cost $2.25. The Doc suggests that we would never adopt such a system because Metro is "resistant to change" and such changes would "launch political wars." But if politics weren't an issue, should Metro aspire to New York's flat fare approach?

No. While a flat fare is appealing, Metro fills a fundamentally different role in the region than the New York City Subway does in New York. The subway only goes to the five boroughs. Commuters from Long Island, New Jersey, Westchester and Connecticut ride three different commuter rail systems, whose fares, like Metro's, are based on distance and in most cases on peak vs. off-peak times, as well. New Jersey Transit's fares, for example, range from $1.50 to $16.50.

If Metro were like the New York subway, it would only go to destinations in the District and Arlington, and everyone from Maryland and elsewhere in Virginia would ride a much-expanded MARC and VRE. Those riders would have to change to Metro at Union Station or L'Enfant Plaza, like commuter rail riders have to change at Penn Station, Flatbush Avenue or Hoboken for PATH.

As Matt Johnson has explained, Metro is a different type of system than the New York subway, a "regional rail" system more analogous to BART in San Francisco and just as close to Philadelphia's SEPTA Regional Rail commuter trains (fares $3.50 to $18) as to the city's Market-Frankford Line ($2 cash, $1.45 with token).

Sure, Metro's fares could be simpler. We could switch to a zone system like London's. Inevitably, some people's rides would get cheaper and some more expensive. But it's worth investigating, and would be a more sensible and appropriate simplification than a flat fare.

Next: Are bus rides too cheap?

David Alpert is founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By David Alpert  | May 25, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Local blog network, Metro  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Coal plant splits rural Virginia town
Next: ANC cries foul at liquor store singles

Comments

I think that one thing you're missing is that NYC, with all its boroughs, is bigger than the District of Columbia -- by far. The NYC subway covers miles & miles of commuting, not just an area comparable to Arlington, as you claim. Have you ridden the NYC subway from one end to another? Have you ever taken it to a destination outside Manhattan? Some of us have.
The Washington DC metro doesn't match NYC's subway in a lot of ways. Among other things, there's a huge area in NoVa that has no metro service at all. People who live in that massive area must drive to work, or take the bus to the Pentagon. There are few areas in NYC that aren't served by their subway service.
Then there's the pitiful problems that metro has ON TOP OF the fare increase. I haven't recently heard about NYC subway car crashes, have you?
It's fine to defend WMATA, but if you're going to draw comparisons, know what you're comparing metro to. Otherwise you're stating more opinion than fact -- and that's not something that belongs on a news website.

Posted by: dcombs001 | May 25, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I think that one thing you're missing is that NYC, with all its boroughs, is bigger than the District of Columbia -- by far. The NYC subway covers miles & miles of commuting, not just an area comparable to Arlington, as you claim. Have you ridden the NYC subway from one end to another? Have you ever taken it to a destination outside Manhattan? Some of us have.
The Washington DC metro doesn't match NYC's subway in a lot of ways. Among other things, there's a huge area in NoVa that has no metro service at all. People who live in that massive area must drive to work, or take the bus to the Pentagon. There are few areas in NYC that aren't served by their subway service.
Then there's the pitiful problems that metro has ON TOP OF the fare increase. I haven't recently heard about NYC subway car crashes, have you?
It's fine to defend WMATA, but if you're going to draw comparisons, know what you're comparing metro to. Otherwise you're stating more opinion than fact -- and that's not something that belongs on a news website.

Posted by: dcombs001 | May 25, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Um...dcombs001? This page is labeled "All Opinions Are Local." I'm pretty sure that's why Mr. Alpert posted his opinions. And his observations are valid. I've had that very discussion with tourists who couldn't understand why they paid more to travel farther, as if that were an alien concept. These were often the same folks who couldn't understand why one ticket wasn't good for everyone in their group.

Posted by: NebraskaGreen | May 25, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company