Metro board discusses fare changes, revenue and safety concerns

Metro is looking into several options to help address revenue concerns while encouraging ridership. Safety concerns were also a topic of discussion during a Thursday board meeting.

The Metro Board reviewed several new concepts to take on recent challenges, including a decline in commuters, and with no fare increases since 2017, they’re also looking at options to increase revenue.

Tom Webster, Metro’s executive vice president for Strategy, Planning and Program Management, suggested having more affordable options like a $1 bus fare, instead of the current $2.00.

“A reduction would encourage some riders to take more trips and improve their access and mobility around the region,” he added. Another goal, Webster said is to stop fare evasion while balancing the expense of lower fares.

Other options being considered included discounted parking, changes to on and off peak rates and a late-night rail fare flat fee of $2.00.

“Rail pays the bills, we got to do everything we can to encourage that ridership,” said Board Chairman Paul Smedberg.

Safety concerns

While discussing safety concerns and what can be done to decrease crime, the board decided not to move forward with a proposal that would ban people arrested in connection to sex crimes or for carrying a firearm on Metro transit.

Nearly 100 residents submitted letters opposing the proposal saying it would be enforced inequitably and would raise concerns around due process.

It also would’ve meant anyone arrested would face immediate suspension. The first offense came with a 14-day ban, the second carried a 30-day ban and a year for those accused of offending a third time.

Smedberg said they’ll monitor the effectiveness of similar initiatives and will consider rescheduling the matter at a later date.

Last year during the pandemic when ridership was down, there were 149 cases of indecent exposure reported, 11 more than in 2019.

From July to December of last year, Metro saw a 50% decrease in crime against property compared to the same period during 2019, but there was a 55% increase in the crime rate for assaults, rapes and homicides, despite a drop in ridership.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said the focus now is providing more support. “I have been working with others around the country to see what they’re doing, but I think there is just a general feel that we have to make sure we’re doing everything we can to make everyone feel comfortable.”

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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