Posts Tagged ‘fares’

FY2015 Budget and Beyond

January 7th, 2014 1 comment

We want to hear from you! Interested Image for MM - Proposed Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Budgetin the FY2015 budget? Answer our survey or participate in an upcoming public meeting. Want to talk more long-term strategy? Connect on MindMixer.

We are seeking feedback from riders and offering multiple ways to comment on the proposed FY2015 budget and fare changes, as well as Metro’s Capital Improvement Program. You can participate in any or all of the following:

  • Survey: The survey includes questions about the fare changes, costs, and the benefits you will see going forward. The survey is open until 5 p.m. on February 11, 2014.
  • Public Hearings: The six public hearings will provide an opportunity for riders to give formal testimony on the docket of proposed budget actions.

Looking to get into the weeds and talk about some long(er)-term opportunities? We have started a new discussion on MindMixer to gather your ideas and thoughts about priorities and potential future changes to the balance of funding between riders and local government, continuing to allow fares to be paid in cash on Metrobus, parking, new fare options, and priorities for a down payment on Metro2025 initiatives.

Read more…

AAA: Despite Fare Increase, Metro Still Cheaper than Driving For Many Trips

December 11th, 2013 1 comment

The American Automobile Association (AAA) highlights that, even with a proposed fare increase, Metro is still a cheaper than driving for many trips in the region.

AAA’s analysis compares the costs of driving and parking between Maryland and Virginia to Metro-accessible locations in and near downtown Washington.  Below is a selection of these trips:

Comparing The Commuting Costs – Driving vs. Riding Metro (Source: AAA Mid-Atlantic)

Obviously, these are just examples and there are other trips where transit isn’t an option or driving may be more cost effective than Metro.  Parking costs, levels of congestion, transit accessibility, travel times and other variables are quite different depending on where a trip begins and ends.  Still, taking the train or bus is often much cheaper than driving, especially utilizing SmartBenefits or transit passes, which further reduce the cost of choosing Metro

Categories: In The News Tags: , ,

Metrorail Fares Are Complicated, For Good

December 6th, 2013 22 comments

Metrorail’s distance-based fare structure is the most equitable.

fare-table-sample

Excerpt of Metrorail distance-based fare table.

Metrorail is one of only three heavy rail systems in the United States with distance-based fares.  (BART and PATCO are the other two.)  And to the best of my knowledge, it’s the only one with peak and off-peak fares.  With 86 stations (soon to be 91) and two fare time-periods (it used to be three), the average rider has a large number of possible fare combinations.

The benefits of Metrorail’s existing fare structure are many-fold, but chief among them are equity, efficiency, and economics.

The fare structure is fair.   Distance-based and time-of-day fares allow transit riders to pay fares in proportion to the level of service they’re using.  Peak period riders pay more and have more frequent service.  Short distance travel is less expensive than long-distance.  With flat fares, those who take short trips subsidize those who take longer trips, and people who ride during times of reduced service subsidize those who ride during the peaks when trains are most frequent.  With zone-based fares, customers taking short trips that cross a zone boundary pay a larger fare than other customers taking longer trips entirely within a zone boundary.

The fare structure is equitable.  A switch from distance-based to flat-fare that was revenue neutral (not losing money) would raise a Title VI equity concern.  Planning staff have done a preliminary analysis, and such a switch would have a disproportionate burden on low-income riders.  A switch to flat fares that was not revenue neutral would result in higher subsidies from Metro’s funding partners

The fare structure promotes economic efficiency. People use resources more efficiently if they’re priced to reflect the value of the resource.  Economists love variably priced roads like the Intercounty Connector (MD-200) and the I-495 Express Lanes, as the per-mile prices are set to keep traffic flowing.  The same concept applies to Metrorail’s distance-based and peak/off-peak fares. Read more…

Categories: Fares and Service Tags: ,

Metro Evaluating Options for Off-Board SmarTrip Loading

November 6th, 2013 20 comments

Metro seeks to reduce delays to Metrobus caused by on-board SmarTrip card loading by installing off-board SmarTrip® Recharge Stations at key locations across the region.

Metro has been quite successful at increasing the use of SmarTrip® card usage on both bus and rail.  As noted in a previous post, many initiatives — including surcharges for paying cash — have been successful at raising the the SmarTrip® use rate to about 90% on both Metrorail and Metrobus.  As many readers have noted, many Metrobus customers load small amounts of cash — enough for one or two trips — onto their SmarTrip card in order to avoid the surcharge.  This on-board load transaction can take between five and 30 seconds and, on average, one out of every 14 trips on Metrobus involves a small value load. On some routes it’s as frequent as one out of every seven.  This behavior results in longer dwell times, slower rides, and less efficient operations of Metrobus.

One possible solution is to increase the opportunities for loading value onto SmarTrip cards before the customer boards.  While SmarTrip cards can be reloaded online, at Metrorail stations and at a variety of retail outlets around the region, the frequency of on-board loading indicates the need for additional, convenient opportunities to add value to SmarTrip cards.

animated-example

Example of potential SmarTrip Reload Station size and location. Image updates every 5 seconds. Click image for larger version.

 

Metro is seeking to meet this need by developing and deploying SmarTrip Recharge Stations (SRS) at selected bus stops around the region.  In addition to facilitating the loading of fares and passes to SmarTrip cards and working with Metro’s current back-end systems, the requirements for these recharging stations include: Read more…

Categories: Fares and Service Tags: , ,

King St-Old Town to McPherson Sq: Fare is Fair

August 14th, 2013 7 comments
McPherson-Fair-Fare

Metrorail charges you the lowest possible fare, even if other trips that seem longer are less expensive.

Recently a Twitter user asked a simple question:  when traveling from King St-Old Town why does it cost more to travel to McPherson Sq than to Metro Center?  As a straight shot on the Blue Line, McPherson Sq is closer than Metro Center, so why is the trip to Metro Center cheaper?

We recently described how Metrorail fares are calculated.  However, the previous post  failed to mention is that when there are two or more routes to travel between any pair of stations Metro uses the least expensive one.

For the example above, there are a few routes to travel between King St-Old Town and McPherson Sq.  The shortest trip when considering the miles on the railway is to take Yellow to L’Enfant Plaza and then transfer to Blue or Orange, which results in 8.12 miles and a peak fare of $3.65.  The fare to Metro Center is only $3.55, because it is only 7.82 miles from King St-Old Town via L’Enfant Plaza.  For a rider taking the Blue Line to McPherson Sq, it might seem unfair that customers traveling one additional stop pay $0.10 less. Read more…

Categories: Fares and Service Tags: , ,

Measuring the Impact of SmarTrip® Initiatives

July 22nd, 2013 8 comments
SmarTrip-Pct-vs-Initiatives

Metro first rolled out SmarTrip® on rail in 1999, breaking new ground as the first contact-less smart card used for transit in the United States. Metro began rolling out SmarTrip® on bus in 2002 and then to Metrorail parking facilities in 2004.   While the utility of SmarTrip® was immediately obvious to many customers, others required a bit of encouragement to switch to the fare media that is most cost-effective for Metro and customers alike.

Usage of SmarTrip® on rail has been growing steadily since its launch, but use on bus seemed to plateau around 20% on bus starting in about July 2006 until about January 2008.  That was the date when Metro began its first major initiative to encourage people to move to SmarTrip by implementing a $0.10 surcharge for using cash on bus.

Since then, Metro has rolled out new SmarTrip features and additional incentives to continue the increase in SmarTrip use rate.

The chart below illustrates the changes in SmarTrip use rate on both bus and rail, overlaid with the dates of the initiatives and feature releases that helped motivate customers to switch to SmarTrip.  The usage rate now is nearly 90% on both bus and rail! Read more…

Metro’s Fare Policy Principles

June 3rd, 2013 13 comments
Fare table showing peak-of-the-peak pricing, in effect from August 2010 to June 2012

Fare table showing peak-of-the-peak pricing, in effect from August 2010 to June 2012

In a recent post we described how Metrorail fares are calculated.  The previous post noted that Metro’s Fare Policy Principles have established guidelines for how fares are structured.  When it is time to evaluate changes to Metrorail, Metrobus, and MetroAccess fares, Metro staff revisit the fare policy principles to look for guidance.

Metro Fare Policy Principles, adopted November 18, 2010:

  1. Ensure and enhance customer satisfaction;
  2. Establish a mechanism to allow customers to determine their fares easily;
  3. Optimize the use of existing capacity;
  4. Establish equitable fares and ensure compliance with federal regulations;
  5. Facilitate movement between modes and operators throughout the region;
  6. Encourage the use of cost-effective media;
  7. Generate adequate revenue while maximizing ridership;

The challenge for Metro staff is to explore fare concepts that strike balance between the different principles.  For example, Metro uses surcharges to encourage use of SmarTrip™ which is our most cost-effective fare media (principle #6), but the surcharges provide challenges to easily determined fares (principle #2).

Note that Metro’s distance-based fares are considered more equitable than flat fares.  Average income increases with distance from the core in the Washington region, so a flat fare would result in the highest per-mile fares for those groups who are the least able to pay them.  Metro’s Board of Directors understands this and has emphasized fare equity (principle #4) as one of its top priorities.

Many other aspects of the current bus, rail and paratransit fares reflect these principles:

  • Surcharges for not using SmarTrip™:  Metro charges $1 per trip for using paper farecards on rail and $0.25 per trip for using cash on the bus.  These surcharges have helped push usage of SmarTrip™ up to about 90%, resulting in the reduction of  fare collection costs.
  • Different fares on different levels of service:  Metro charges $1.60 base fare for local and MetroExtra services.  Buses that travel long distances on freeway lanes cost users a higher fare ($3.65) to correspond with the greater travel speeds.  Metro’s longest distance bus routes, which travel to Dulles and BWI airports, charge a $6 fare per trip.
  • MetroAccess fares are priced at twice the fixed route fare with a cap at $7.  This fare structure is intended to encourage use of the existing fixed route capacity Metro offers, which are available to MetroAccess-eligible customers free of charge.
  • The peak-of-the-peak (POP) rail fare surcharge, enacted in August of 2010, charged customers an extra $0.20 to enter the system during the peak 90-minute periods during the AM and PM peak.  This surcharge was another example of using fares to “optimize the use of existing capacity.”   However, riders informed Metro this fare concept impacted fare policy principles #1 and #2, customer satisfaction and allowing customers to easily determine fares.  In the end, these two policy principles won out and the POP surcharge was eliminated starting July 1, 2012.

What fare concepts might help better align Metro’s fares with the fare policy principles?   What ideas have other agencies implemented that you’d like to be considered for Metro?

 

 

Categories: Fares and Service Tags: , , ,

How are Metrorail Fares Calculated?

November 15th, 2012 3 comments

FY13 Metrorail Fares by Composite Mileage

Unlike older subway systems in the United States, Metrorail uses “distance-based” fares, meaning the farther you travel, the more you pay.  While a flat-fare system may be simpler, Metro has established fare policy principles that put a priority on equity rather than simplicity.

Peak Fares:  Peak rail fares are based on distance traveled (calculated to the one-hundredth of a mile).  The first three miles have one base fare, the next three miles have an incremental fare per mile, and smaller incremental fare is charged for the remaining distance. The resulting fare is rounded to the nearest $0.05 and is then capped at $5.75.  The peak fares are show in the chart above as the blue line.

Off Peak Fares:  Prior to July 2012, Metro peak fares and off-peak fares were calculated differently. Off-peak fares were fixed at three tier-based fares: short, medium and long-distance trips.  This presentation on the development of a fare model (PDF) describes the old fare structure in detail. The most recent fare increase changed the off-peak fare structure to be more like the peak fare structure, with off-peak fares generally a 25% reduction from peak fares. Current off-peak fares are show in the chart above as the green line.

The table below shows the peak and off-peak fare increments for Metro’s non-discounted full fares.  Senior citizens and DC students, for example,  receive fare discounts.

Table 1:  Metrorail “full fare” fare structure, FY13.

Peak Off-Peak
Flat fare for first 3 miles of travel $2.10 $1.70
Incremental fare for additional miles above 3 and up to 6 $0.316/mile $0.237/mile
Incremental fare for additional miles above 6 $0.280/mile $0.210/mile
Maximum fare cap, regardless of distance $5.75 $3.50

This fare structure accomplishes the Metro Board’s fare policy principle of providing equitable fares (longer distances pay more) while keeping fares reasonable. Read more…

Categories: Fares and Service Tags: , , ,

Metro seeks public input on FY13 budget and fare proposals

February 21st, 2012 2 comments

Metro’s Board of Directors will host six public hearings in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia beginning Feb. 27, where members of the public may provide formal testimony regarding the budget and fare proposals. Members of the public may provide formal testimony regarding the budget and fare proposals, which are included in the docket of budget actions. The proposed operating and capital budgets for the next fiscal year support the critical rebuilding of the Metro system, and improving safety and reliability. The budget also provides service enhancements such as additional rush hour rail service, improved escalator maintenance, enhanced bus corridor services, increased security and continued compliance with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations.

Preceding each of the formal public hearings, Metro will host an hour-long Open Forum with multimedia stations to engage stakeholders and solicit public input. The Open Forum will include a video presentation on Metro’s rebuilding program, tables staffed by senior Metrobus, Metrorail, MetroAccess, SmarTrip and police officials who will be available to talk with participants and answer individual questions, and a third station where computers will be made available to take an online survey regarding Metro’s priorities, as well as to submit written comments for the record.

Details and directions for transit travel to the public sessions are available on Metro’s website or via the hyperlinks below. Open forums begin at 6 p.m., followed by the public hearings at 7 p.m. The hearings will take place as follows:

Monday, Feb. 27
Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center – Hearing 569
4805 Edgemoor Lane
Bethesda, MD

Wednesday, Feb. 29
Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School Cafeteria – Hearing 570
7130 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA

Thursday, March 1
Matthews Memorial Baptist Church – Hearing 571
John H. Kearney, Sr. Fellowship Hall
2616 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., SE
Washington, DC

Monday, March 5
Washington Lee High School Cafeteria – Hearing 572
1301 N Stafford St
Arlington, VA

Tuesday, March 6
St. Columba’s Episcopal Church – Hearing 573
4201 Albemarle Street, NW
Washington, DC

Wednesday, March 7
First United Methodist Church – Hearing 574
6201 Belcrest Road
Hyattsville, MD

Written statements and exhibits may be sent to the Office of the Secretary, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 600 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20001, or e-mailed to writtentestimony@wmata.com. Statements also may be faxed to 202-962-1133. Please reference the hearing number. Submissions must be received by 5 p.m. on Monday, March 12. A survey on possible options to balance the budget will be available on Metro’s website from 5p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22 until 5 p.m. on Monday, March 12.

Additional information can be found in the press release.