Metro budget proposal features fare discounts to bring back riders

Metro’s proposed budget for next year includes a host of fare incentives designed to bring riders back as the transit system continues its recovery from the height of the pandemic.

Among the fare cuts are a $2 late-night rail fare for one-way trips from 9:30 p.m. until close. There’s also a discounted monthly pass that would reduce the price range from $72 to $216 to $64 to $192, depending on the distance of the trip.

Metro’s seven-day unlimited pass would get cut from $58 to $29. And there would be an added value bonus where for every $25 placed on a SmartTrip card, another $5 will be added.

The proposed budget goes on to detail Metro’s economic recovery projections, with the agency saying it expects COVID-19 to continue to have an impact through fiscal year 2023 and beyond.

Metro expects to hit 53% of pre-pandemic ridership levels, which is 166.6 million trips, in 2023 — compared to 26% in fiscal 2021 and an estimated 34% in 2022. And it expects to reach 65% of pre-pandemic levels by 2024.

Metro’s projected ridership increases. Click to enlarge.

Metro said it also expects revenue from ridership to remain “significantly lower” than it was before the pandemic.

“In FY2023, Metro anticipates total passenger revenue to recover to $293.1 million, an increase of $133.6 million from FY2022 or $384.7 million below pre-pandemic levels,” the budget reads.

The Metro board will discuss WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s proposal on Thursday.

It would go into effect in July.

You can read the entire budget online.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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