Extra Fees Not Keeping Metro Riders Away

Few people are avoiding the “peak of the peak” surcharge

Tuesday, Apr 12, 2011  |  Updated 1:01 PM EDT
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Extra Fees Not Keeping Metro Riders Away

NBCWashington.com

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Metro's new "peak of the peak" surcharge is costing riders, but it apparently hasn’t been enough to keep them from traveling during rush hour.

Riders now pay an additional 20 cents to travel between 7:30-9 a.m. and 4:30-6 p.m.  The fee increase was put into place last year to help Metro fill more than $100 million of a budget gap.  But according to a new Metro report, since that surcharge took effect, only 3 percent of riders shifted their trips.

More riders are, however, using SmarTrip cards.  Using a paper fare card now costs an extra 25 cents.  Since that surcharge took effect, SmarTrip use rose from 76 percent to 79 percent on rail trips and 64 percent to 76 percent on bus trips.

And if those charges aren’t enough, Metro's board is also considering tacking a 5-cent surcharge onto trips into some of its busiest stations.  That would include Union Station, Metro's busiest, which averages more than 32,000 riders a day.  The new proposal would allow each jurisdiction to add the surcharge at two stations.  The revenue would then be used to fund repairs and maintenance at those stations.  The surcharge would be dropped once those improvements are complete.

The entire Metro report will be presented to board members on Thursday.

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