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New monthly Metro passes go on sale

A group of Maryland elected leaders are asking Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld to reconsider a proposal to cut back late-night and weekend service permanently. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON — New monthly Metro passes are on sale this week that will save regular commuters money, and — Metro hopes — improve its relationship with customers.

The “SelectPass” is beginning as only a pilot program to gauge interest in the passes and Metro will offer two options for riders. For $81 per month, all Metrorail trips that usually cost up to $2.25 will be free. Or for $135 per month, all Metrorail trips up to $3.75 will be free.

For any trips that cost more than the maximum fare covered, riders who have purchased the pass will only pay the difference. (A rider with the cheaper pass who took a trip that would regularly cost up to $3.75 would pay just $1.50 for the trip). This is already the case for Metro’s 7-Day Short Trip Pass, which covers trips up to $3.60 for a weekly cost of $36.

Anyone who buys the new monthly pass, which can be used starting in April, can also add unlimited bus trips for $45 per month. That is far less than it would cost to buy the popular $17.50 weekly bus pass four times.

If the passes are successful, they could become permanent later this year or next year. Metro planner Shyam Kannan says the permanent passes would likely include more price options to cover different trips.

“We want to make sure that we have got structures out there that make it very convenient and appealing to choose a Metro trip, and choose a transit trip,” he says.

The pricing plan is about 18 times the cost of a regular round-trip commute and is gives a discount to regular riders who commute four or five days per week, while also encouraging additional trips outside of the rush hour.

“We’re giving you that trip in exchange for the relationship of you being part of SelectPass,” Kannan says. “We’re running those trains at lunch anyway, we’re running them at night anyway, get on board.”

Kannan estimates most riders who use the pass will save 20 percent each month on just commuting.

“Right off the bat you’re getting three to five days of free travel for your commutes, plus all the other trips that you want to take included,” he says.

While Metro is focused on commuters whose trips are close to the price points they are offering, other regular riders could save too since the discount is carried over to any rail trip, even if riders must pay the difference.

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