Greater Greater Washington

Transit


Transit pricing: Time to go "all you can eat"?

When you pay for transportation, whether it's for driving a private car or taking mass transit, there's a continuum of payment methods, with "pay-per-use" on one end of the scale, and "unlimited use" on the other.


Photo by gregula.

Does the choice of method matter? It should. People make choices about how they get around based on how much the next trip costs them. With unlimited use, the next trip is free. With pay per use, the next trip can cost a lot, because not only are you paying the cost of an additional trip, but you're paying a fraction of the fixed costs.

Most people pay per trip for transit in the Washington region. Meanwhile, many other transit agencies use an "all you can eat" model with their regular customers. In New York City, with the highest transit ridership in the nation, most riders buy weekly or monthly unlimited ride MetroCards. Unlimited ride holders don't think twice about hopping on the subway for almost any trip.

Metro sells about 35,000 unlimited weekly bus passes per week, and about an eighth as many rail passes. We should implement more convenient, reasonably priced monthly or weekly passes. WMATA's effort to integrate the existing passes with SmarTrip cards is a good start. However, the rail pass is still separate from the bus pass, and the rail pass only makes financial sense for those that ride the longest distances.

The difficulty with rail passes in Washington compared to other systems is distance-based fares. For other systems, the provider chooses a weekly price, which is typically 9-12 single rides. For distance-based fares, how should you choose the price to base it on? If you choose about 10 times the maximum fare, it's a terrible deal for most and you don't end up selling many passes. (This is almost what we do currently; it's $39.00 for a pass and the maximum fare is $4.50.) If you choose 10 times the minimum fare, it's expensive for the transit agency, and there's a lot of revenue loss compared to regular fares.

SmarTrip cards are smart enough to have customizable weekly passes. You could choose a fare level and pay ten times that amount per week automatically by subscription. All your rides that are less than that would be free, while any fare above that amount would be deducted from your account balance. This would have the effect of "pay for your commute and the rest is free". This is just like wireless phone service, where you pay for a certain amount of daytime (peak) minutes and get your nights and weekends for free. Right now WMATA has this policy, but there are only two potential fare levels, at around $26.40 for the cheaper "Short Rail" pass (equivalent to commuting downtown from approximately Bethesda), and $39.00 for the more expensive unlimited rail pass (which would be a good deal for anyone commuting downtown from White Flint or further). Someone who commutes a short distance isn't likely to buy one. Additionally, the passes are inconvenient, requiring purchase of a paper farecard, and for the short rail pass, carrying exitfare to make up the difference for each trip.

Image Courtesy GoBoulder
In addition to having reasonably priced unlimited passes, some transit agencies have taken the idea of unlimited pricing one step further. For example, the Denver area transit agency, RTD, sells an unlimited pass to an entire employer based on the number of employees and the distance from the city's downtown and transit centers. This is a form of insurance that spreads the cost out socially in order to provide a benefit. In this case, employers enjoy reduced parking costs and employees get free transit. The transit agency prices the passes to assure revenue neutrality. For a much lower price per employee than single pass purchases, everyone gets an unlimited yearly pass. The price per employee is lower (between $50 and $400 compared to $1800 for an annual pass) because the transit agency assumes some people will not use it.

Transit agencies still get the same amount of revenue, but instead of paying for each trip, the employees don't pay anything extra. This program reduced the number of parking spaces needed for Colorado UniversityUniversity of Colorado, and increased the number of employees taking public transit downtown. Boulder City staff were happy to talk to me about the program. Based on the materials they provided, the program seems like steroids for transit. People are many times more likely to use transit, even buses, when they have the pass. Neighborhoods are allowed to organize and buy passes for everyone on the block edit: RTD has placed a moratorium on new neighborhoods entering the program as they work to collect data from a soon-to-be-released smartcard. Even though the price of a ECO pass has risen dramatically (RTD has hiked the prices more than 50% since 2003), so has transit ridership and pass usage.

Unlimited passes are also an interesting idea for sporting or entertainment events. In that case, the stadium or ballpark would add a fee for every ticket, transferring the revenue to the transit agency. In exchange, the sporting event tickets would act as a day pass (perhaps after a certain time in the afternoon).

Having to pay for something creates a psychological obstacle to consuming more of it. In the case of transit, we want to lower those hurdles, especially off-peak where our transit systems have excess capacity, and more riders mean more revenue but not higher costs. "All you can eat" pricing does just that.

Michael Perkins blogs about Metro operations and fares, performance parking, and any other government and economics information he finds on the Web. He lives with his wife and two children in Arlington, Virginia. 

Comments

Add a comment »

My problem is the MARC motnly pass situation. Specifically in my case they sell a transitlink card that's a paper farecard for Metro that also says it works for base fares on buses and works on the MARC trip I take.

It's this flimsy little paper farecard that's supposed to last me all month of constantly using it in the Metro and having to show it to bus drivers and train conductors.

Half the time I have to read and point to the line about bus fares on it because bus drivers don't know what it is and tell me it's no good on the bus.

Really wish the whole thing would be integrated into some sort of smart card.

by JQ on Feb 26, 2009 10:46 am • linkreport

When i lived (car-free) in Chicago last century i bought a monthly pass good for all busses and L's. It was great. I wish WMATA had this option.

by Bianchi on Feb 26, 2009 11:01 am • linkreport

this is an issue I completely agree with you on (like most..)

When I moved back to DC from New York City I was baffled by the fact that Metro didn't have an unlimited pass. The current system forces you to think about the cost of each trip, and makes you less likely to just hop on whenever/wherever.

Sure, filling up the smart trip alleviates some of the pain, but there is definitely still a psychological barrier. When living in NYC, I also found that the unlimited pass helped me use buses more often.

Keep this issue out there - I would love to see this happen!

by DG-rad on Feb 26, 2009 11:10 am • linkreport

I went to school at CU-Boulder and used the program there to ride the city's buses every day. It was very useful.

But the SmarTrip card accomplishes much the same thing for people who already ride transit. The major advantage to a pass is that you don't have to look for change every time you want to ride the bus. Just carry one card in your wallet and use it whenever you want. SmarTrip is the same. And it's true that I hop on DC/VA buses much more frequently now that they all take a card that I keep in my wallet.

That having been said, the big advantage Denver/Boulder's ecopass program has over regular transit passes is that everybody gets one, so it introduces new people to transit. If your neighborhood takes part in the program, a lot of people who didn't ride the bus before start to, because the pass makes it so easy.

The other piece of the puzzle is that for the whole "introduce new people to easy-to-use transit", the transit has to come often enough so nobody has to schedule. Boulder has been very good about that too.

by BeyondDC on Feb 26, 2009 11:15 am • linkreport

For one point of comparison, the Vienna, Austria, transit system offers a wide range of ticket options: including single trip, single day, three-day, weekly, monthly, and annual.

A yearly pass costs about $600 (at current exchange rates) for access to all subways, streetcars and buses.

This is all simplified by the honor-code fare system in which you rarely have to display the pass. Also simplified by the massive federal subsidy. Politically, neither of these could be applied to DC transit.

by Rocky6 on Feb 26, 2009 11:16 am • linkreport

There are some really nice ideas here. Kudos.

by NikolasM on Feb 26, 2009 11:20 am • linkreport

Very good ideas - unfortunately, I don't think any innovations that have the effect of reducing fare revenue will be implemented by Metro any time soon.

by dcd on Feb 26, 2009 11:58 am • linkreport

dcd - That's the beauty of the Denver/Boulder program. It actually increases fare revenue, because some of the people who get the ecopasses don't use them.

Basically it's a bridge in the gap between user fee and subsidy.

by BeyondDC on Feb 26, 2009 12:00 pm • linkreport

When I lived in Japan the fare system was distance based, but they did unlimited passes. Basically, it was unlimited use between your home metro station and your work/school metro station. The stations it was acceptable between were printed directly on the plastic farecard which passed through the ticket machine. (I assume they have a Smart-trip type option now too as this was 12 years ago) It even worked across rail companies (ie I could board Metro and directly transfer to MARC with the same pass)

If you boarded outside of the covered area you would need to purchase the cheapest ticket and then would disembark with your pass.

Why can't Metro impose a cap on how much it would charge a Smart-Trip card during a day? It seems like this would be an easy technological modification (I think I've read that this may be an option in September, but I could be wrong). It would help for people who want to run a errands or enjoy multiple parts of the city in a single day. All of the sudden a bunch of short trips don't seem like financial burdens.

by Ohio Hoya on Feb 26, 2009 12:14 pm • linkreport

I would like to add that in Austria and Switzerland (both mentioned above) dogs are allowed on transit. In Switzerland, where I lived a couple of years, dogs are required to have a ticket. It was half fare, or the same ticket price as children's fare. And i don't mean lap dogs. Big dogs. Shepherds and Mountain dogs. It was great. You could ride the bus to the trailhead w/ your best friend, go "wanderung" and take the bus back to town. In Austria the hundli's are required to wear a muzzle onboard. I can't seem to remember if the hunds were muzzled on board in der Schweiz. If my best friend were allowed on the metro and bus I would drive a lot less often. The Toronto subway allows dogs.

I would buy monthly or annual passes for my dog.

by Bianchi on Feb 26, 2009 12:30 pm • linkreport

There are two separate issues here. One is the predictability of fares, and the other is the use of passes.

On the predictability of fares, WMATA's system could be simplified to still use distance-based pricing, but with zones rather than the complex array of pricing permutations you have today. Given the hybrid nature of the system, where outer branches are essentially commuter rail trains and the inner core is an urban subway, I think you could have a central zone and a couple of outerlying zones. Unlike the current off-peak fares, the fare wouldn't be based on the distance you personally travel, but by how many zones you cross. Given the radial nature of the system, these are similar but different concepts.

As to passes, simplifying the fare structure would then make it far easier to sell and structure passes. You could buy a pass for just the inner zone, for example - and that would provide unlimited rides within that zone. A commuter traveling across three zones would buy a three zone unlimited pass, which would be more expensive, etc.

It's also worth noting that most other systems have a one price for all rides system because they have to. Distance based fares as you see on Metro and on BART require more infrastructure to sustain them. Metro already has that in place.

No matter the public benefits of unlimited rides or one-price fares, given WMATA's current fiscal situation, I can't see that happening anytime soon. Nor is there anything inherently wrong with charging based on distance - as I noted, this is a hybrid system.

by Alex B. on Feb 26, 2009 12:33 pm • linkreport

Alex B, this is a good idea. I like it. Also, Washingtonians are already familiar with pricing based on zones!

by Bianchi on Feb 26, 2009 12:39 pm • linkreport

Bianchi,

Dogs are also allowed on the Boston T during off-peak hours.

It's true that having to get a pet to the vet, or wanting to take them to the park can be enough of an issue to keep a person owning a car when they otherwise wouldn't. I don't think WMATA would be amenable to pooches on the trains and buses, but it's worth considering what a more organized system of transportation for people traveling with pets would look like in the region.

by Lucre on Feb 26, 2009 1:00 pm • linkreport

Wouldn't this be a perfect way to take advantage of the increase in transit benefits allowed under the stimulus? Make the monthly pass on the pricier side. Federal government employees will take it because they don't pay for it anyway, and a good portion of private employees who pay for it pre-tax would take it too (particularly if it were like the London tube card which gives you unlimited travel within specified zones, and thus be able to be priced according to the user's needs).

As it is, a lot of Metro riders (at least the DC residents) aren't going to benefit that much from the higher benefit level. Let us get an unlimited pass and make Uncle Sam pick up the tab.

by Reid on Feb 26, 2009 1:24 pm • linkreport

I was thinking about something similar: the Metro jurisdictions should give everyone 10 free "off-peak" rides a month. The number is arbitrary, but the idea is to get people using Metro (and buses) more often.

You'd probably have to register SmartCards to do so (and I like having the option to be anonymous). But the technology should not be that hard to implement.

by charlie on Feb 26, 2009 1:31 pm • linkreport

@Reid: I don't think the Federal Government is allowed to give you more transit subsidy than would be required for your home-to-work commute. At the very least, you would have to pay income tax on any amount above that needed for your commute.

I know that if you take the subsidy based on commuting 20 days per month and then go on leave, you're supposed to return the extra.

Maybe if instead of providing transit subsidy to federal workers individually, the federal government took the same dollar amount and gave it to the local transit agencies and instead said, "issue photo ID smartrip cards that function as annual passes for all federal workers". That would be the equivalent of the Eco Pass. There would be some difficulty in that there are many transit agencies involved compared to Denver, we would have to work out the initial funding split and some mechanism for surveying and ensuring that it was periodically updated over time to reflect changes in the way federal workers used the system. Likely it would involve self-reporting by workers to agencies, who would then submit information as they do now to DOT, who would authorize funding transfer from Treasury to WMATA, MARC, VRE, or others. It would be complicated, to say the least.

Another problem is that WMATA's charter specifically states that those benefiting from the system are supposed to pay as much as possible of the system costs.

by Michael Perkins on Feb 26, 2009 2:23 pm • linkreport

I think metro's current system with the weekly short trip, and weekly fast pass is a workable system. If they could just make it smart card loadable, and have the montly versions.

Maybe have 3 kinds. Short trip, medium trip, and REALLY long trip. I'd imagine those who have trips that end up around 3 bucks probably don't think about using a pass since the short trip pass would require the exit fare machine every time, and the Fast Pass would require at least 4 off peak rides to be break even.

by Kiran on Feb 26, 2009 2:40 pm • linkreport

I did some quick math- and if you took the $4.50 fare twice a day for 52 work weeks, the price of your Metro costs would be roughly $2,340. Even if Metro charged more than $2,000 for an unlimited, year-long pass it would still be a great deal for a daily commuter from far away.

by A on Feb 26, 2009 2:53 pm • linkreport

I don't know how to solve the predicament, but I will relate my personal experience.

In Atlanta, you can buy an monthly pass for unlimited rail and bus trips for $52.50, but many agencies and organizations subsidize them. For instance, at Georgia Tech, where I was a student, MARTA sells the passes to the Univ. at $40 a piece. Tech got a CMAQ grant to subsidize each pass by $10 extra dollars, so that the pass was $30 for students. When I worked for a government agency, I got my card for about $17, pretax.

For $17 I could take as many trips as I wanted on the rail and bus system. One way that this helps is if I'm travelling from Work to Home, and I wanted to stop off at the Library, I'm not recharged a base fare, which would be the case here.

Another way we could encourage Metro use by certain groups is to merely provide a discount. Students, for instance, could get a special SmarTrip (build it into their ID's perhaps) which discounted trip costs by 10%, say.

by Matt' on Feb 26, 2009 2:54 pm • linkreport

A multi-modal pass would be very helpful for those of us who visit DC as tourists and/or business travelers. I have always been baffled by the arbitrary requirement that I must buy two passes - one for bus and one for rail. I can't think of any other city where I have to do this. Normally I just buy at 3, 5, or 7 day pass when I get to a city and can use it any mode - bus, train, trolley, etc.

As a visitor I'm not as concerned with cost as with convenience. As pass that covers both bus and rail lets me travel without thinking too much about it.

by Eric on Feb 26, 2009 3:17 pm • linkreport

There are a lot of great ideas posted here that I would support, but we have to keep in mind that, just like the Google Transit thing, WMATA is going to ask, "what's in it for us?" as opposed to "how would this help our riders?".

They're going to look at a lot of these proposals and say, "money loser, money loser, money loser . . . "

Which is why a rail plus bus pass for a year is $2600 ($39 for rail plus $11 for bus, per week) and has to be purchased as individual paper cards, rather than $1032 for Chicago, $972 for NYC, $946 for Portland, $936 for Philadelphia, $744 for LA.

by Michael Perkins on Feb 26, 2009 3:55 pm • linkreport

i'd still like to see a proposal for congestion pricing on transit. lots of different things we could try to redistribute peak loads.

by Peter on Feb 26, 2009 4:05 pm • linkreport

To be quite honest I would probably pay the unlimited pass for the increased convenience and not making a decision each night about whether or not I should spend another couple dollars to take the bus/train (Not to mention worrying about having enough money on my card). More than likely I would take the bus/train more, but I would also spend more on public transit overall.

In regards to charging for weekend parking why don't they offer unlimited pass holders free weekend parking and charge non passholders?

by Ohio Hoya on Feb 26, 2009 4:14 pm • linkreport

In London, they have zoned fares and a fare structure that encourages even tourists to obtain a SmartTrip-like Oyster card. Users of Oyster have maximum fare caps, the levels of which depend on the number of zones traveled. It is easy for a tourist to achieve these fare caps. A simple fare cap system Metro could implemet would be a fare cap of the greater of $4.70 (the cost of two long-distance off-peak trips) or the cost of the two most expensive trips a rider makes in a day (currently as much as $9.00).

by Mike Penick on Feb 26, 2009 4:27 pm • linkreport

On zone-based fares versus point-to-point fares: A zone system does make daily/weekly passes more intuitive, but it's only equivalent to a point-to-point system for trips that begin or end in the central zone, or that never enter the central zone. If College Park is in, say, zone 3, then a trip from College Park to Gallery Place would be covered by a zones 1-3 ticket. But if Alexandria is also in zone 3, then a trip from College Park to Alexandria would also be covered by a zones 1-3 ticket. So if WMATA is to switch to a zone-based system, they'd need to do one of three things: (1) raise the fare from College Park to Gallery Place; (2) lower the fare from College Park to Alexandria; or (3) design the zone system so that zone 3 in Maryland is a different zone from zone 3 in Virginia.

On non-money-losing suggestions: If WMATA really wants to encourage people to use SmarTrip cards, why don't they charge higher fares for rail trips using paper farecards? Every other transit system I've used recently (Chicago, Boston, and London) has done that (although it appears that Chicago doesn't anymore). London, most egregiously so: Single fares are so ridiculously high that the only people who pay them are tourists who can't be bothered to figure out what's going on. Everybody else either gets an Oyster card or a pass. And tourists who buy day passes probably take the Tube more *and* generate more revenue than they would if single fares were more reasonable.

by Johanna on Feb 26, 2009 4:35 pm • linkreport

Short bit of history: Metro *did* have month-long transit passes until a few (maybe 5-7?) years ago. They were paper farecards (though, most everything was paper cards at the time), and operated just like the weekly pass. I can't recall the price of them, but they weren't cheap.

WMATA discontinued them to shore up their budget one year: the savings they encouraged brought in less revenue.

I like the idea of some sort of hybrid pass, though, where it could come with, say, 10 peak rides a week and unlimited off-peak. That wouldn't hit Metro's budget very much, because it would only add "free" riders where Metro has lots of extra capacity.

by Joey on Feb 26, 2009 6:01 pm • linkreport

To me, anything that offers unlimited off-peak would be a fantastic idea! it would get more people used to riding the train more often. Inevitably, more people would choose Metro to commute! If Metro commuting was an option for my job, I'd jump on that in a heart beat! It's also an excellent system for students. It would encourage people here on business for a week to get out and check out the town. Apart from initially costing WMATA a few bucks, I don't see how that could be a bad thing at all.

by Dave Murphy on Feb 27, 2009 2:17 am • linkreport

@Johanna: Since the network is not typically congested in the outbound direction, I don't really see a point in charging people extra for the downtown to Alexandria portion of the College Park to Alexandria trip. Once you've paid for a trip from relatively far to the congested core, that's pretty much all that should be required.

by Michael Perkins on Feb 27, 2009 7:12 am • linkreport

And yet, given that right now it costs more to go from College Park to Alexandria than from College Park to downtown DC, wouldn't cutting the College Park to Alexandria fare be a dreaded money loser? There probably aren't a whole lot of people who commute between College Park and Alexandria, but people do make that trip (or I do, anyway). And while I certainly wouldn't complain if the fare was lowered, I'm not sure what's in it for WMATA. Or do you think the overall benefit of going from point-to-point fares to zone fares would outweigh the extra few bucks they're getting out of me right now?

by Johanna on Feb 27, 2009 8:01 am • linkreport

@Johanna: I understand the predicament. Anything that's a money loser will forever be a non-starter in this town. It's like a ratchet that only goes one way. I guess a stopping point will be when Metrorail is at 100% cost recovery (getting close!).

I don't really know how large the benefits would be for going from distance based to zone fares. Certainly that massive table that's on many fare machines, system maps, and station kiosks would get a lot smaller and easier to read. Passes would be more usable, though I think WMATA would possibly lose money on that.

by Michael Perkins on Feb 27, 2009 8:51 am • linkreport

FYI, non-service-dogs ARE permitted on WMATA. The rule is: "a pet can be transported on Metrorail and Metrobus in a secure container as long as there is no possibility that the pet can get free."

See

http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/faqs.cfm

by Nx on Feb 27, 2009 12:43 pm • linkreport

Additionally, the passes are inconvenient, requiring purchase of a paper farecard.
Now, that is a little bit of a stretch. Inconvenient? Not so sure about that. I buy bus flash passes in paper form. I do not think they are inconvenient at all. To the contrary.

Beyond DC - I can't believe a little thing like change was keeping you from where you needed to go.

The other piece of the puzzle is that for the whole "introduce new people to easy-to-use transit", the transit has to come often enough so nobody has to schedule.
So true.

by Jazzy on Feb 28, 2009 8:27 am • linkreport

@Jazzy: Compared to the "always handy" smartrip card, having to go to a store or machine and purchase a paper farecard is inconvenient.

Additionally, for rail passengers, having to feed paper farecards through machines is inconvenient compared to waving a wallet or badge holder over a sensing dot.

Also, many people obtain transit benefits through work, and I have yet to figure out how to purchase unlimited passes with Smartbenefits.

Finally, the short rail pass requires you to go to the addfare machine for each trip and have change to make up the difference between the $2.60 and the actual fare. I called to ask whether all of the extra could be added at the beginning of the week, but any money added expires at the end of the day.

It may not be extraordinarily inconvenient, but for rail customers it's less so than Smartrip, which is the standard.

by Michael Perkins on Feb 28, 2009 10:16 am • linkreport

correction, difference between $2.65 and the actual fare.

by Michael Perkins on Feb 28, 2009 10:19 am • linkreport

@Jazzy: For buses, I'll definitely agree with you that the flash passes are very convenient, and very affordable. Is there a way to subscribe to them so you just get a new one in the mail every week?

Nothing beats the convenience of visual authentication by drivers, I guess other than proof of purchase.

by Michael Perkins on Feb 28, 2009 10:24 am • linkreport

Yes, ok. Bus flash passes and unlimited rail passes work differently. But I still think it is a bit of a stretch to say paper rail passes are "inconvenient." But I will move on.

I used to order the flash passes from the WMATA through their Web site, and they'd send it to me in the mail. Then something happened, some glitch, I can't remember what, but I could not order anymore. So I walk up the street to buy them. I do not know if you can subscribe to them. I haven't checked that. But knowing me, that is not something I would ever do because I don't like to leave my cc or debit card number with people to be charged on a regular basis, under most if not all circumstances, and I avoid doing so. But that is just me.

Back to the inconvenient thing. As I've mentioned several times, for me to obtain my Smart benefits that my work kindly provides me, I must go to a Metro station. Now, I never ride the trains. (Of course, not never, but you know...) But to get these benefits, I must go to a metro station. This is extremely inconvenient, when I should be able to do it on an uncrowded Metrobus. But there it is.

by Jazzy on Feb 28, 2009 10:46 am • linkreport

@Jazzy: Sounds like we have related questions that WMATA might be able to answer. You would like to order bus flash passes with your Smartbenefits, and I'd like to have short rail passes with mine. I'll go ahead and inquire how this is possible.

by Michael Perkins on Feb 28, 2009 3:14 pm • linkreport

Ok, thanks Michael. Well, I didn't say I wanted to order flash passes on my smart benefits, I wanted to be able to access my benefits from above ground, most likely in a bus. A flash pass on a smartcard would be good too - BUT, I am mindful that others use the system who are not comfortable (both financially and otherwise) with the smartcard, and therefore do not advocate doing away with the paper pass. As you noted, they are really easy for the driver to recognize and process.

by Jazzy on Mar 1, 2009 11:20 am • linkreport

With all due respect, accessing your benefits on buses is not the answer. The answer is to have them automatically renew. Making Smart Benefits available on buses would be a massive hardware issue. Having it renew automatically would be a software issue - far easier to implement and maintain.

by Alex B. on Mar 1, 2009 12:50 pm • linkreport

With all due respect, changing the software to automatically renew the Smart Benefits is not the answer. Employees are required to adjust the amount that they claim in any month to account for vacations, telecommuting and other situations that might reduce their transportation costs.

by JW on Mar 1, 2009 1:32 pm • linkreport

That may be, but having them do that on the bus is counter productive. The whole advantage of a smart card is speed in boarding. If you turn each the farebox of each bus into a interface, you're working against the primary benefit of a smart card.

by Alex B. on Mar 1, 2009 1:40 pm • linkreport

Well, the bus farecard box already allows you to add fare to your card. People generally are considerate and wait for there not to be a line to do this. I don't see that being able to access your benefits is asking too much more. But having it automatically renew is of course ok by me.

BTW, I get the same amount of benefit every month.

by Jazzy on Mar 1, 2009 3:43 pm • linkreport

I find it amazing no one here sees the full picture.

More passengers on Metro means less cars on the road, less pollution, less hours lost in traffic, less road infrastructure cost, less needs for real estate to build ever more roads, etc.... The whole community, Federal government, local administration, citizens, should support any initiative that will drive users to use pubic transportation rather than individual cars.

Unlimited daily, weekly, monthly and yearly passes exist in all (or almost all) cities in Europe.

Marseil, in Europe.

by Marseil on Mar 3, 2009 11:12 am • linkreport

Marseil, Many readers and commenters on this blog see and long for the whole picture you describe. Thanks for re-emphasizing it.

by Bianchi on Mar 3, 2009 11:19 am • linkreport

You could choose a fare level and pay ten times that amount per week automatically by subscription. All your rides that are less than that would be free, while any fare above that amount would be deducted from your account balance. This would have the effect of "pay for your commute and the rest is free".
Ecclesiastes 1:9, "There is nothing new under the sun".

I found a transit agency that has a program exactly like this. You choose a fare level and pay about 36 times that for a monthly pass. Then the pass is good for any trip below that amount, and you just pay the difference if it's more. Additionally, you can buy a year pass for the price of 11 months.

by Michael Perkins on Mar 14, 2009 7:33 pm • linkreport

Hello all,

I am originally from NYC and when I first moved to the District I was baffled at the fact that they didn't have a Monthly option. I guess I was spoiled by the use of my Monthly Metro Card, but this option would be perfect for me as most of my trips are within the downtown area. The fare structure could take on the LIRR/NYCTA structure with the outer regions fares being based on a Zone structure and the inner-area being able to buy the unlimited fares.

Currently, I use less twenty-four dollars a week to get back and forth from work on the Metro, as I ride only two stops (Brookland-Union Station). The only thing that works for me is pay-as-you-go right now. I would love for them to be creative or even copy another system's structure and apply to the DMV region.

by Duane on Apr 14, 2010 1:28 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or

Support Us

How can our region be greater?

DC Maryland Virginia Arlington Alexandria Montgomery Prince George's Fairfax Charles Prince William Loudoun Howard Anne Arundel Frederick Tysons Corner Baltimore Falls Church Fairfax City
CC BY-NC