Tuesday, May 25, 2004

COMMUTING: Higher Metro Fares for Late Night?

According to a public meeting notice on its website, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority is considering an "adjustment" for subway fares during late-night Friday and Saturday service. As you may remember, WMATA began phasing in later service Friday and Saturdays in the past few years.

For fiscal 2004, WMATA began an 18-month demonstration period to see whether or not a 3 a.m. closing on Fridays and Saturdays was a good move. While ridership has increased (143,200 passenger trips over nine months), the cost effectiveness hasn't met expectations.

This imbalance between operating cost and operating revenue has caused the Board of Directors to examine the fares received during this time period if the cost recovery ratio (passenger revenue/operating cost) could be raised to Metrorail cost recovery rates experienced during other periods of time during the day.

A translation and a prediction: With late night service popular but not cost effective, they're probably going to charge more after midnight. WMATA has floated other cost-cutting possibilities, including running two-car trains late at night and closing some stations (like Federal Center SW ... but that might be an improvement).

Public hearings on the matter are scheduled for June 7, 7 p.m. at WMATA's Judiciary Square headquarters.


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