Metro Malarkey

It’s human nature to complain about prices going up whether it’s the cost of housing, a gallon of gas, or a loaf bread. It’s well founded too, I mean who wants to pay more for something especially if you see little to no personal return? Does your car run better or go farther on a tank of gas if it costs $3.10 vs $3.05 per gallon? Why pay the extra nickel?

The answer is usually because that extra money is going into the cost of maintaining the system (or so we hope) and also due to the cost of other things going up. A loaf of bread used to cost 10 cents back in the good ol’ days, but the salary of the bread factory employees, the cost of the bread ingredients, and the cost to ship the bread to the store were far less.

Recently Metro’s General Manager John Catoe Jr. presented a plan to raise the fare of riding the subway, riding the bus, and parking fees, designed to “close a projected shortfall” and wouldn’t you know it, people are complaining. The plan is proposing bus fares to be increased from $1.25 to $1.50 (a quarter!) and parking fees to go up from $3.50 to $4.00 (fifty cents!).

One of the complaints is that urban riders, those who pay to park at Metro lots, are bearing more of the brunt of the increase. It’s just not fair! The fare isn’t fair! Why do we have to pay an extra fifty cents when the bus riders only have to pay an extra quarter? Jim Graham, our Ward 1 Council member, argues that the poor, disadvantaged people of DC can’t afford the extra quarter and will not support any proposal that raises the bus fare for his people. He argues that instead the parking fees should be raised even more since “the market rate for parking is much higher.”

I’m calling “boo hoo” on all of this. Not to sound insensitive, but we haven’t had a Metro fare increase in years that I know of and it’s bound to happen sooner or later. Tracks need repair, parking lots need repainting, employees want raises, gas prices are higher…it all adds up. Let’s say you ride the bus 30 times per month. Even if you are extremely poor, can you not afford an extra $7.50 per month? Or if you park in a Metro lot 20 times per month, it’s only going to set you back another $10.

I guess it’s not a question of if Metro fares will be increased, it’s a matter of how much and who will pay more, our “poor” citizens or our urban commuters? Either way, I’m sure people will find a way to deal with the extra costs whether it means working a couple of extra hours, carpooling with coworkers, or even canceling your HBO service. That is a sacrifice I could never make.

Photo by Grundlepuck

1 Comment so far

  1. GhostBear (unregistered) on September 28th, 2007 @ 1:06 pm

    At first glance, the rate hikes seem a helluva lot more reasonable than the ones they tried several months ago. That being said…I’m just glad that I don’t have to take Metro anymore. With the already high rate fares for ‘suburban’ commuters with the parking fee, it was costing me 10.95 a day to commute into town. Yes, it’s cheaper than a parking spot, but on some (read: most) days, I think slogging through the grind on 395 and paying astronomically insane parking fees would’ve been preferable to the horrendous service Metro gave me on the Blue / Yellow lines 4 out of 5 days a week.

    But I really think the fare hike is kinda fair, all things considered. But you have to ask yourself, are the commuters really getting anything out of it? The question always seems to come back around to Metro salaries, horrid rail service, and little regard for customer service. Is even the minuscule amount they’re asking for worth the continuation of bad service?

    The fact that politicos are making this into a ‘class warfare’ situation is just abominable, however. And I think that, above all else, is what irks me about it.

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