12 Apr 2004 Public Transport Disincentives
Thoughts from David Almasi:
In the Washington, D.C. area, they are contemplating raising the rates for public transportation yet again. Actually, you can consider them raised since the hearing process and deliberations are merely a formality. It’s telling that, when a fare increase was “considered” last year, the signs with the new rates were installed in stations in advance of the final board vote.
A rate increase will be a disincentive to use the system. I live just outside the Washington Beltway. I am considered close to D.C., but I am equidistant to two of the end-of-the-line stations. If I take Metro to work these days, it costs me $5 round trip for the train and $3 to park. Taking a bus to the station is just a little bit less. To drive and park in a lot near my office is currently the same price, but I avoid the crowded rail cars, perpetually-broken escalators and the knowledge that I have to wait to get all the way home if I need to go to the bathroom (after years of fighting, Metro finally opened their spacious bathrooms to the public for a short time before declaring it a security risk in the wake of the bombings in Spain). Plus I can run my errands on the way to pick up my wife.
When the rates are raised in June, it will be an even greater financial disadvantage to use public transit. It will also make it harder on the people who can least afford it. Rather than tightening their belt (they recently spent a mint remodeling their legal offices and current and retired employees ride free on and off duty), they are shaking down the riders. Will the last rider on the system please turn out the lights?
Sure makes me glad we did the environmentally-sensitive thing and located our headquarters near a subway station.