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Get Ready to Pay More for the Metro, as Board Expected to Approve Rate Hikes

by Dave Emke — March 7, 2017 at 2:45 pm 9 Comments

METRO Wiehle-Reston EastThe Metro board is set to vote Thursday to approve an FY2018 budget that includes 10-cent fare increases on rush-hour rides and 25-cent hikes at other times. Regular and express bus fares will also go up by 25 cents, while the rate for the bus to Dulles Airport will jump from $7 to $9.75.

The increases in fares are expected to raise $21 million for Metro as the transportation system works to shore up a projected $125 million shortfall in its budget.

Ridership on Metro plummeted from 2015 to 2016, with stations in Virginia seeing a decrease in users of more than 12 percent when comparing the fourth quarters of each year. Wiehle-Reston East’s decrease was 13.4 percent, the greatest drop among Virginia stations on the Silver Line, which had a 9 percent decrease overall.

Service frequency during rush hour outside of DC will also be decreased as part of the plan. For the Silver Line, trains will run every eight minutes instead of the current six-minute interval. The original proposal had called for off-peak frequency to be decreased as well, from 12 minutes to 15; however, that has been dropped from the final plan.

Virginia representatives on the Metro board discussed the proposed changes, as well as increased local contributions to the budget, during a January public forum in Reston.

The new rates are expected to go into effect around July 1.

  • Scott

    Rate Hike? This is preposterous. Everyone knows they should be hiking tolls on cars to pay for the train. It’s the only fair and logical thing to do.

    • John Higgins

      Scott, the fairness and logic of that solution escapes me. Speaking from my personal experience, the Metro system goes nowhere near destinations for which I use the toll road. If the theory is for drivers to subsidize (and make attractive) mass transit, fine…but spread that around, maybe increases fuel tax, but don’t burden a narrow band of road users simply because one can.

      Interesting that only government would create a new economic model: when demand goes down, raise the price.

  • Mike M

    Ridership is down. So to make up the revenue gap, they are going to raise rates and decrease service? Am I missing something? Are we in Wonderland? Would this be a tailspin? Does Metro even believe in the value of its product.

  • Willie Reston

    Death spiral.

  • Dgeorge

    What if they lowered prices and increased ridership? In Europe public transportation works so well that many people don’t even own cars. I can’t remember what the cost of the EL in Chicago was when I lived there but it was cheap.

    • The Constitutionalist

      There’s quite a lot of other socioeconomic factors at play as well, in Europe.

      This is just simple intro level economics here. Increasing the price will further decrease demand, it will probably not be a net increase or decrease either way.

      Running the metro this far out has always been a giant waste of money. It is no longer cheaper or faster to take the metro into DC, or anywhere else you need to go. It’s also a far less pleasant experience than driving yourself and is incredibly inconvenient.

      Many of us spoke against bringing the metro out here, and now look, it’s almost like we can all see into the future.

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