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(Washington, DC) Metro mulls more fare hikes

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
6,377
Points
29
:-\
up until the last hike I took Metro everywhere but to work
1) easy no parking mess
2) cheap

now with this new possible increase its quicker and CHEAPER for me to drive into the city or wherever I want to go.

I tend to think Metro has got the wrong idea here. Sell more adverts maybe? Was this, like any modern rail system, aimed to be self supporting? Come on the DC area has horrible air quality and just got slam'd pretty good by the courts and EPA something big is going to have to be done to cut down on emissions and more folks driving is not it.
 

Dharmster

Cyburbian
Messages
440
Points
13
Yeah, but you are ignoring why fares are increasing. Metro was created in the mid 1970s and they are now experiencing a large surge of retirees. Under union contracts Metro provides these retirees with health insurance and pension benefits. Combined with increasing health costs in general, Metro's operating cost are increasing at higher than the rate of inflation and since those benefits are specified in union contracts Metro can't do much to control them. State and local governments are also broke, so they are likely to raise a deaf ear for increases in subsidies above the rate of inflation.

So Metro can cut costs or raise fares. Cutting service hurts those who have no alternatives the most. Raising fares does drive cost sensitive passengers (and most commuters into the DC core are NOT) away, but it does increase revenues. Trust me Metro is far from the point where fare increases will no longer yield more revenue. It's all a matter of priorities, and right now local and state governments have higher priorities (mainly schools and healthcare) and I certainly won't argue for more subsidies until fares are increased Metro is at the point where raising fares will no longer yield additional revenue.

PlannerGirl said:
:
I tend to think Metro has got the wrong idea here. Sell more adverts maybe? Was this, like any modern rail system, aimed to be self supporting? Come on the DC area has horrible air quality and just got slam'd pretty good by the courts and EPA something big is going to have to be done to cut down on emissions and more folks driving is not it.
 

Elisabeth

Cyburbian
Messages
157
Points
7
PlannerGirl said:
the DC area has horrible air quality .
I developed environmentally induced asthma after living in DC for only a year and a half :-# !! My lungs must have been too well adjusted to the clean, crisp, upstate NY air...

It's too bad they might hike metro fares--the 1.10 base price was solid. I agree though, there are too many cars on the road there.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
The CTA raised fares at the beginning of this year (from $1.50 to $1.75), and is threatening to raise them again next year.

The biggest problem for transit agencies across the nation is that their subsidies are usually tied via some concrete formula to some sort of local sales tax. The sales taxes revenues are highly volatile, and since most transit agencies are required to have a balanced budget, often the only choice they have when the economy tanks is to reduce service or increase fares.

This puts them into a spiral. Increasing fares and reducing service reduces ridership, which is the other place they get revenue, so they have to go through another round of fare hikes or service cutbacks to balance the books again. The CTA entered that spiral in the early eighties and didn't pull out until the late nineties. During that time, they lost something like 1/3 of their riderhship.

You'd never hear of the government shutting down roads because of budget problems, they make sure they have enough money to keep the roads open, because it is understood that roads are essential government services. Road projects can easily obtain federal monies, and states recieve federal money to help maintain the interstates. Federal operating subsidies for transit have fallen from relativly sizable amounts in the 1970s, to basically nothing today.

The reality is that transit is not treated like an essential service by the government. Transit agencies are expected to "make due" with shoestring budgets tied to volitile revenue streams. And if the budget fails to work out, the only choice is often to degrade service just a little more.
 

ChevyChaseDC

Cyburbian
Messages
190
Points
7
The reality is that transit is not treated like an essential service by the government. Transit agencies are expected to "make due" with shoestring budgets tied to volitile revenue streams. And if the budget fails to work out, the only choice is often to degrade service just a little more.
Right on. IMO, part of the reason for this is that too many members of congress and state legislators perceive urban mass transit as something besides a vital component of transportation infrastructure, and instead view transit as a type of government welfare for the poor, like unemployment benefits, food stamps, etc - that people who ride transit do not do so by choice, but by necessity, and would otherwise drive a car if their economic circumstances permitted them to.
 

Dharmster

Cyburbian
Messages
440
Points
13
jordanb said:
Federal operating subsidies for transit have fallen from relativly sizable amounts in the 1970s, to basically nothing today.
That's not really true. Small urban areas (under 100,000 ) still get operating assistance. Also, those over 100,000 may use their capital funds to cover some heavy maintenance activities like overhauls. The reality though is that federal funding for mass transit has increased substantially over the last decade. Finally, it should be acknowledged that much of the federal operating subsidy was acutally consumed by increased labor costs.

Also, not all areas fund their transit systems through the sales tax. For example, Maryland, Virginia and the District all use gasoline tax revenues to help fund public transit.
 
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