Ridership up, fare evasion down on Metro, transit agency says

A green line train is reflected in a station elevator. (WTOP/David Andrews)

Efforts to reduce fare evasion and increase safety on Metro trains and buses appear to be working, the transit agency said Thursday, citing positive ridership and crime trends.

According to Metro, there were 22 million bus and rail trips in March, which is up 14% from last year. So far in 2024, fare evasion on the rail system is also going in the right direction, down 50% compared to last year, the transit agency said in a news release.

Meanwhile, paid ridership is up 24%, affirming fare evasion is down across the system.

Metro attributed the success to the steps it’s taken to reduce fare evasion, which include installing retrofitted fare gates at 33 of 98 stations, resulting in a 79% decrease in fare evasion at those locations.

The transit agency said it’s also installed new, more reliable fare boxes on 60% of Metro’s 1,500 buses, with a goal to upgrade all buses by the end of the summer.

“We have made great efforts to improve service and safety across all hours and all days of the week, and it is paying off,” said Metro general manager and CEO Randy Clarke. “We are moving customers in numbers that we haven’t seen in years, which boosts the economy, decreases congestion, and supports sustainability throughout the region.”

D.C. lawmakers also took action to reduce fare evasion as part of a sweeping crime bill. That resulted in hundreds of citations for fare evasion in March and the arrests of more than 20 people with outstanding warrants, Metro said.

During peak commute hours in March, Metro said its stations saw an average of 50,000 entries per hour, a 25% increase compared to this same time last year. Federal employee trips also increased by 33%.

“As ridership grows, Metro will continue to incorporate innovative ways to serve customers throughout the region and keep them safe on their journey,” the transit agency said in the news release.

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Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson is an Associate Producer and Web Writer/Editor at WTOP. After graduating in 2019 from James Madison University, Thomas moved away from Virginia for the first time in his life to cover the local government beat for a small daily newspaper in Zanesville, Ohio.

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