SelectPass Pilot: Making it Easier to Plan, Pay, and Ride

March 11th, 2016

Customers showed high levels of interest in a customizable monthly pass.

pass_interest

Metro customer interest in a new unlimited monthly pass concept, by market segment.*

Metro is not raising fares this year, and instead is innovating ways to make it easier and more affordable to use the system.  Metro is taking a page from private industry, which has moved away from charging customers for each purchase and towards giving customers the option to “subscribe” to a company in exchange for unlimited access.  A Netflix subscription has replaced a membership at the local video store.  Amazon Prime offers unlimited shipping rather than shipping on each item.  Spotify subscriptions have replaced purchasing individual CDs.  Why not a subscription to use Metro?

Fortunately, we found a way to provide this to our customers and we’re really excited to begin testing it out starting this month.  The idea is to allow customers the ability to customize an unlimited access pass based on their usual travel patterns. Modeled after Seattle’s Puget Pass and frequently discussed on Greater Greater Washington over the past few years, this pass would allow customers to subscribe to a monthly pass, priced based on their typical trip costs, that offers unlimited travel on rail and the option to add on the same flexibility on bus.  We are calling it the Metro SelectPass.

Here’s the basic concept.  Customers tell Metro their usual start points and end points.  We then figure out how much that trip costs and offer you unlimited travel on rail up to that value in exchange for you buying 18 days worth of trips.  For example, if a customer’s “usual” peak trip is $2.25, they can get a pass priced at $81.00 (about $2.25 x 18 x 2) and then all trips valued at $2.25 or less would be free for an entire calendar month.  Extra trips for lunch, a night on the town, doctor’s appointment – it’s all included in one low price.  If you travel on a more expensive trip for any reason, you only pay the difference for that trip.  Most customers may enjoy savings of over 20% off of the pay-as-you-go rate, and they’ll also get the benefit of knowing they can travel as much as they want, whenever they want, all for one price.

For an additional $45 per month, customers can choose to add unlimited bus travel on top of unlimited rail travel.  That’s a huge savings compared to pay-as-you-go! 

Departments from across the Authority worked with the Planning Office to launch an analysis of such a pass and whether it would work for Metro customers.  The first step was customer research.  We worked with our research team and a third-party firm to develop a survey that asked Metro customers about their travel patterns and then asked whether they would be interested in a pass of this nature, and how much it would be worth to them.  We also asked whether they would be interested in adding unlimited monthly bus or unlimited monthly parking.

The survey was administered to a group of over 1000 customers – people who actually use Metrorail or Metrobus.  38% percent of the respondents were frequent or occasional Metro commuters, and another 12% percent were frequent non-commute riders.  See the market segmentation in the table below.

The results were very encouraging.  As shown in the graphic above, around 75% of our regular commuters expressed interest in this pass product.  Interestingly enough, over half of the occasional commuters were also interested.  Perhaps these occasional commuters will ride more with Metro SelectPass.  Or perhaps customers want to “set it and forget it”, and pay a consistent monthly bill for transit, just as they do with other services.  We will be launching a beta test of the Metro SelectPass next week, so we will know the answer to this question soon.

In the meantime, what do you think of this pass proposal?  Are you interested in “free nights and weekends” on transit, or a consistent monthly bill for your transit service?

Other links:

* A note on the market segments.  The study classified riders by their travel frequency and by when they travel.  The table below illustrates these groups and how they’re defined.

Market Segment % of Sample Description
Frequent Commuter 6% Commute 4 or more days per week, never take for non-work trips
Frequent Commuter Plus 16% Commute 4 or more days per week, use for non-work trips at least once a week
Occasional Commuter 6% Commute1-3 days per week, never take for non-work trips
Occasional Commuter Plus 10% Commute 1-3 days, use for non-work trips at least once a week
Frequent Non-work Rider 12% Never use for work, use for non-work trips 2 or more days per week
Infrequent Non-work Rider 50% Never use for work, use for non-work trips 1 day per week or less

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  1. KMW
    March 11th, 2016 at 09:40 | #1

    What about the cost of parking?

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  2. Michael
    March 11th, 2016 at 10:34 | #2

    @KMW
    The customer survey asked about interest in adding an unlimited parking option to the pass and it wasn’t very popular.

    We can add that to the list for future research.

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  3. Josh
    March 11th, 2016 at 12:47 | #3

    Would the cost of this pass be covered by the pre-tax/federal transit benefit?

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  4. Michael
    March 11th, 2016 at 12:56 | #4

    @Josh
    Josh, check out the mini-site and let me know if that doesn’t answer your question.

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  5. KB
    March 11th, 2016 at 14:27 | #5

    Say I had the pas for 2.25 per trip. If I were to take a trip costing more than that, could I swipe out at a station under that value and then immediately re-enter and continue my trip essentially riding free? I realize that isn’t the intended use, but I could see people trying it.

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  6. Michael
    March 11th, 2016 at 14:34 | #6

    @KB That is a concern and one that we will be monitoring during the pilot/test phase. Similar to the new program that refunds your fare if you exit within 15 minutes of entering, we can detect if you are re-entering immediately after exiting and flag the second entry a continuation of the first trip. Again, Step 1 is monitoring.

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  7. Anne
    March 11th, 2016 at 17:10 | #7

    Will this be available as a SmartBenefit? Currently I can’t get passes of any sort through work, and if I still can’t then this isn’t useful to me.

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  8. March 12th, 2016 at 05:46 | #8

    @Anne

    Yes, you can! In order to do so, you must request that your employer allocate your funds to Transit Pass Benefits.

    Has everyone checked out the info sites? http://www.wmata.com/selectpass AND selectpass.planitmetro.com? The latter leads you to an FAQ that answers a lot of these questions and more!

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  9. Fan
    March 14th, 2016 at 08:40 | #9

    I carpool in the morning and take metro and metrobus in the afternoon. I calculated that my metro peak fare is $2.70. Could you modify the Select Pass program to accommodate this situation? Thank you.

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  10. Michael
    March 14th, 2016 at 09:18 | #10

    @Fan
    Unfortunately, no. At this time, we are focused on customers who take Metrorail for both their morning and afternoon commute travel four to five days per week. Using stored value on your SmarTrip card will continue to be the most cost effective option for you.

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  11. Trevor
    March 14th, 2016 at 14:12 | #11

    If I add the 45$ for the bus will it work on express buses?

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  12. Michael
    March 14th, 2016 at 14:29 | #12

    @Trevor
    The $45 bus add-on will act as a discount on express and airport buses, reducing those fares by $1.75 per trip.

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  13. Trevor
    March 14th, 2016 at 14:47 | #13

    @Michael
    Are there any plans in the works for a pass that will save money for people who take the Metrobus to and from work five days a week?

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  14. Michael
    March 14th, 2016 at 14:56 | #14

    @Trevor
    Currently Metro offers a 7-day regional bus pass priced at $17.50:

    http://wmata.com/fares/purchase/passes.cfm#bus

    This pass can be purchased at sales offices or online and auto-loaded to your SmarTrip card.

    Depending on the results of the SelectPass test, we may consider a monthly bus pass. Or perhaps three: “regular”, express and airport bus services. I will definitely add monthly bus passes to our list of things for future study.

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  15. Trevor
    March 14th, 2016 at 15:02 | #15

    @Michael
    Thank you for adding it to the list for future consideration. Unfortunately the current 7-day pass does not come out to being any discount for someone riding the bus to and from work five days in a week.

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  16. Anna
    March 20th, 2016 at 15:53 | #16

    Thanks for working on this! I’d love to be able to have the option of getting the $45 unlimited bus pass on its own. Would this be a possibility?

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  17. Michael
    March 21st, 2016 at 12:44 | #17

    @Anna The bus add-on is priced at 36 bus trips assuming a rail/bus transfer. ($1.25 x 36 = $45). If we were to do a bus-only version of this, it would likely be priced at 36 times a full bus fare, $63. We can add a stand-alone bus-only SelectPass to the list of new products to be evalutated.

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  18. JL
    March 31st, 2016 at 15:33 | #18

    SelectPass is a great step in the right direction for Metro in terms of customer responsiveness, and also in terms of modernizing fare policy to fall more in line with common industry practices; a very positive and encouraging development. That being said, is it really necessary to, “add a stand-alone bus-only SelectPass to the list of new products to be evaluated?”

    The PugetPass on which SelectPass is modeled takes a holistic view of regional transit and provides fare flexibility across both bus and rail modes. It seems like a pretty straightforward conclusion that SelectPass should do the same thing. WMATA has reintroduced precedence for this in the upcoming fiscal year with the addition of free bus transfers to both the 7-Day Short Trip Pass and the 28-Day Fast Pass. I suspect that even with the addition of free bus transfers the 28-day pass still won’t sell much, though the short-trip pass will probably become a bit more appealing. I would also imagine that Metro’s evaluation for a bus-only SelectPass would be heavily centered on revenue implications. From a financial perspective, I can understand the hesitation on Metro’s part to reintegrate bus and rail fares. However, every operator of bus and rail transit in the nation offers intermodal connections either at no cost or at a nominal cost; to do otherwise, as at Metro, where intermodal transfers are offered at a nominal discount, is poor policy to begin with.

    Ultimately, transit users in the National Capital Region want the ability to use a multimodal pass without excessive pre-planning and thinking (i.e., budgeting stored value needs to accomplish trips); with SelectPass, Metro has an opportunity and a vehicle by which to provide us with just that. As pass products are evaluated, I would encourage Metro to be mindful to eliminate duplication and to offer a streamlined family of affordable combined bus & rail products. For example, if/when SelectPass is expanded to the remaining cost points, you may have a 28-Day Fast Pass for $237 (including Metrobus) and a competing SelectPass offering the same service priced at $257; neither one product is particularly desirable in this scenario.

    Lastly, WMATA should consider evaluating a 1-Day Short Trip Pass (including Metrobus) Best of luck!

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  19. Tim
    April 2nd, 2016 at 20:56 | #19

    On the topic of monetary savings and benefits for riders, we all need to come together to petition the feds to reinstate the full $260-per-month federal employee transit benefit. I hope Wiedefeld and everyone else at WMATA realize that reinstating the federal employee benefits will increase ridership- and that it should be one of the highest priorities after the safety and reliability issues are dealt with.

    After that, once ridership is at a stable level, we need to find better funding sources for capital improvement projects and projects that improve core capacity. I know this isn’t an original idea, but I think a cordon charge for autos and trucks entering the central employment zone should be implemented, and the bare-bones toll (the most conservative and limited cost) for entering Central/Downtown DC should be $11.80, the amount it currently costs for a round trip on Metrorail (the highest possible fare) split between both the morning and evening rushes (the average, run-of-the-mill commute into DC in the morning, leaving DC in the evening). I did some calculations, and if the toll were $11.80 for Single-Occupant-Vehicles, which make up 44.8% of all commuters entering DC on a daily basis, it would pull in over $17.75 million in one workweek (not counting weekends, or carpoolers/vanpoolers/sluggers, or trucks of class 5 and above). So the potential/effectiveness of a cordon charge is really high. This method and value-capture, exemplified perfectly by Hong Kong’s Metro (run by MTR Corporation), coupled with a raise of the DC height limit in the downtown area, but not in the area where it would affect views of the numerous landmarks in the National Mall/Capitol Hill area (particularly Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol Building, where I think special building codes (such the architectural feature of setbacks) would have to be implemented to preserve the views of the Capitol, the White House, the Old Post Office tower/Trump’s DC Hotel), would bring in enough funding to make up a significant portion of upcoming capital projects and core capacity/expansion projects, and thereby reducing our reliance upon government funds. However, the cordon charge MUST be implemented by the DC Council and the DC Council ONLY. Otherwise, the other jurisdictions could possibly have a say, and shoot the idea down really quickly. Plus, theoretically, the cordon charge area is entirely in the District, so what’s the point of having the outside jurisdictions decide what will happen inside DC proper and DC proper only?

    Oh, and the separate Blue Line needs to be executed ASAP. It is THE core capacity project (besides the improvements at individual stations and pedestrian walkways between the Farragut stations and between Met. Ctr and Gallery Pl.-Chinatown) that is of highest priority. The initiatives outlined in Momentum 2025 even state capacity for the Blue Line needs to be improved. All 8-car trains during rush hours and improved and expanded equipment and rail-yard capacity, respectively, will not be enough to increase capacity on the lines that currently go through Rosslyn, not even for 2025.

    As for the downtown loop, I fully recognize the value of Metro in places such as Georgetown, which is one of the new hot spots in the District, or more of Metrorail in Capitol Hill (service closer to the Capitol itself), but I fail to see how more interlining solves the capacity crisis we are in right now (well, when ridership is back at a more stable level). I feel that each and every line should have its own tunnel in downtown, and if we alter the loop plans now, we can adjust to the changed plans better and that we’ll be ready for changes in the system that will revolutionize our capacity, and that these changes could be DC’s equivalent of a second system (the term comes from the IND in NYC).

    Follow-up comment on the way.

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  20. Tim
    April 3rd, 2016 at 01:48 | #20

    Sorry if I sounded like I didn’t know the difference (in the context of current/recent plans) between the separate Blue Line and the Downtown loop, I do know they would use pretty much the same route between Rosslyn and Union Station (thanks to Greater Greater Washington–here’s the link: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/21022/how-might-the-new-metro-loop-work/ ). However, like I said before, all of that interlining involved in the Downtown Loop plan is not fully solving the issue we are facing right now: limited capacity for individual lines because of interlining on critical Downtown sections of Metrorail (a.k.a. train throughput at Rosslyn and L’Enfant Plaza). Again, like I said before, we need to separate each and every Metrorail line in Downtown DC. The Red, Orange, and Green lines would retain their current tunnels, which leaves the Blue, Yellow, and Silver lines that must be rerouted.

    The Blue comes first, with Phase I of the rerouting digging a new tunnel for Blue line trains underneath either N Nash Street or N Oak Street in Rosslyn, with a station in that area connecting up with the current Rosslyn station by underground pedestrian walkway. The Blue line then continues under the Potomac with a new station underneath Prospect Street somewhere between 37th Street NW and 35th Street NW, which should be dubbed “Georgetown Univ” with maybe a subtitle of another locally-picked name. The Blue then continues and realigns itself to be directly underneath M Street NW by the time it gets to the next station, underneath M Street NW between Wisconsin Avenue NW and 30th Street NW, which should be dubbed simply “Georgetown”. The Blue then continues east underneath M St with a stop underneath M Street between 25th St NW and New Hampshire Ave NW, dubbed “West End”, with possibly Rock Creek or Washington Circle as its subtitle. The Blue continues to the last stop of Phase I, underneath M St NW between 18th St NW and 17th St NW, dubbed “Connecticut Ave-Longfellow”, with an underground walkway to Farragut North (and maybe, just maybe, the south end of Dupont Circle station). This is a good place to end Phase I, because it provides transfers to stations in Downtown DC, and is within walking distance of important employment areas close by the other stations in Downtown DC. In just this 1st Phase, we’ve addressed the demands of many who use the Blue line to get to their jobs in the Farragut/Longfellow area and let them continue to do so, and relieved capacity on the existing “Silrange” subway (nice ring to it, eh?). Phase I should be expedited and completed BY 2030–no exceptions. This should be entirely possible because it is only 3-5 miles of tunnel with only 5 newly-bored stations, meaning it should cost less than or the same as the total cost of the Silver Line (both Phases), which is about 5-6 billion dollars (though if it means not sacrificing extra entrances and that walkway to Dupont Circle, 7.5 billion is okay). The following phases can wait a few more years, but ideally should be completed soon after Phase I to provide better connectivity. You’ll see why completing the Blue line separation faster is important. Phase II should run at least to Mt. Vernon Square, meaning only 2 stations and about 1.1 miles of tunnel. From Connecticut Avenue-Longfellow, the Blue continues east to a new station underneath M St, between Thomas Circle itself and 12th St NW, dubbed “Thomas Circle”. This section of M already has condos/apartments, and some restaurants and hospitality (hotels). This should serve as a future transfer for a 9th/Massachusetts/16th Subway line, that could–and very well should–serve Columbia Pike in Arlington. This would create another corridor for TOD in Arlington, absorbing more population growth in a smart way. I will describe that in a future comment. Back to the Blue line. After Thomas Circle, the Blue would continue to Mt. Vernon Square, with the platforms for the Blue line shifted slightly east of 7th Street (1/3 of the platform(s) west of 7th, 2/3 of the platform(s) east of 7th. Why so nit-picky? This is to try to even out the space between stations along M St. For Phase II, bringing the Blue at least to Mt. Vernon Square relieves some pressure off of Gallery Place-Chinatown. Ideally however, Phase II should include a further segment of the Blue between Mt. Vernon Square and Union Station, taking people coming into DC from Commuter/Intercity Rail headed for the Farragut/Longfellow employment center off of the Red line. After Mt. Vernon Square, the Blue would continue east along M for a brief period, then turn south underneath New Jersey Ave and have a station underneath NJ, between K Street NW and H Street NW, dubbed simply “New Jersey Ave”. This may encourage the redevelopment of a parking lot that sits over top of I-395, in the block bounded by 2nd, 3rd, H, and K Streets NW. From there, the Blue continues south underneath NJ, then turns southeast (deep) underneath Massachusetts Avenue and stops directly underneath Columbus Circle, with underground pedestrian connections to the Red line, and the Union Station complex itself (and maybe an entrance located on the inside of a curve in Columbus Circle NE, right near that CaBi station on the east side of Columbus Circle, and there are two existing bus stops there, right at the bus stop labeled as “Massachusetts Avenue and Columbus Circle–Stop ID 1003744, if that helps, Allison and Michael) . Union Station should really be the end of Phase II. Phase III would finally connect the Blue line up with Largo again, but the route it would take, under my proposal, wouldn’t be underneath H Street/Benning, so as not to duplicate the new streetcar service. The Blue would continue south along 2nd St NE/SE to a new stop underneath 2nd, between C and A Streets NE, dubbed “Capitol North-Stanton Park”. From there, the Blue would continue east underneath East Capitol Street, and have a station directly underneath Lincoln Park itself, dubbed, “Lincoln Park-East [Capitol] Hill”. Read the text very closely now, this part is rather complex. As the Blue line heads east, it turns northeast and surfaces alongside the Orange/Silver tracks, but not concurrent with them. The Silver line, until it is separated itself, remains concurrent with the Orange line at a new infill station, dubbed “Oklahoma Avenue”, on the current BL/SV/OR bridge between the RFK tunnel portal and Minnesota Avenue/Blue-Silver tunnel portal west of Benning Road station. It would be a 4-track station, with Blue on the outer tracks, and Orange/Silver on the inner (current) tracks, similar to the layout of an Express/Local stop on the NYC Subway with 2 island platforms facilitating transfers between lines going in the same direction. Oklahoma Avenue station should have an elevated walkway from a mezzanine below the tracks but above street level connecting to the Oklahoma/Benning stop on the H/Benning Streetcar. East of Oklahoma Avenue, the Silver Line would diverge from the Orange and link up with the Blue, just before another infill station, located on the same viaduct, with the same platform/track layout as Oklahoma Ave (the Silver will only be operating on this section until it get’s its own route through Downtown DC). The existing tracks wouldn’t need any complicated modifications to make these two planned infill stations work.

    So there’s a detailed description of a rerouted Blue line. The reason this project should be expedited is that the other half of what could be a so-called “non-interlined, separated Downtown Loop” is the separated Yellow line project. I’ll explain it in my next comment.

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  21. Tim
    April 3rd, 2016 at 05:13 | #21

    I apologize for not breaking that comment up into paragraphs very much. I’m trying to get these ideas out there before I lose my train of thought (no pun intended).

    Anyway, a separated Yellow line would be the next priority after the separated Blue line. From Pentagon station, the Yellow line would use the existing bridge, but equipment, track, and the tunnel itself may need to be reconfigured to allow for a new station right at the tunnel portal:
    “Jefferson Memorial-East Potomac Park”, with a mandatory underground/elevated walkway connecting the new station with the Jefferson Memorial, keeping pedestrians safe, and separated from automobile traffic (I-395/US-1). Then the boring of new tunnel begins: The new Yellow line alignment tunnels underneath the Washington Channel, and turns southeast and arrives at a new station directly underneath Maine Avenue between 9th and 7th Streets SW, at the Wharf development, which should be named, “Maine Ave-Wharf”, and should have an underground walkway to Waterfront station on the Green line. Then the Yellow turns due east and immediately arrives at another new station, underneath K Street SW, between Delaware Avenue SW and Wesley Place SW (basically underneath the intersection of K and 3rd Streets SW), and should be called Waterfront, just like the Green line station it should connect to by underground walkway. The Yellow line then continues under K Street, stopping once more underneath K, between Half Street SE and New Jersey Avenue SE, named, “Capitol Yards-Navy Yard”, and should have an underground walkway to Navy Yard-Ballpark station. Immediately after the station, the new Yellow line should turn north underneath 2nd Street SE, and have a station underneath 2nd Street SE, between North Carolina Avenue SE and C St SE, named, “Capitol South-Folger Park”, and the current station should be renamed to this name. After that, the Yellow would continue north underneath 2nd Street SE/NE, and stop at the proposed Capitol North-Stanton Park station (with a transfer to the Blue line). Read the text carefully: The station layout there should be either 4-track/2-island-platform layout, OR a unique station with the tracks of each line that go in the same direction leaving the station on the upper level, and the other two tracks of the same likeness on the lower level (If you don’t understand this explanation, google Lionel-Groulx station of the Montreal Metro. Same concept as I explained, but for the DC Metro, one of the line’s different destinational directions would be flipped, meaning Franconia-Springfield bound trains would be on top instead of on bottom, and vice versa for trains towards Largo Town Center.). Being specific about which line and the different directions on each side and level would make the engineering component of tunneling into the next station for both the Blue and Yellow lines, of which is Union Station, easier. The Yellow line station would be underneath North Capitol Street, between H Street NE and Massachusetts Ave NE (Allison and Michael, tell everyone else at WMATA to be picky about the exact lineup of the Yellow line platform(s), because it will determine the sweet spot for connectivity with the Blue and Red lines, as well as with the future extension of the H/Benning Streetcar westward. This should be the end of Phase I of the separated Yellow line. Phase II will extend the Yellow up North Capitol Street and west to Columbia Heights and Woodley Park/Adams Morgan, with a stop under N. Capitol between P and Q Streets, named “Truxton Circle/Eckington”, and another stop under N. Capitol between V and Adams Streets, named “Bloomingdale/Prospect Hill”, and another stop underneath the Washington Hospital Center and other medical facilities in that vicinity, named “McMillan-Washington Hospital Center”, then the Yellow would turn west underneath Kenyon Street, with a stop underneath Kenyon between Sherman and Georgia Avenues, and then a transfer with the Green line at Columbia Heights, which should be renamed “Columbia Heights-Mt. Pleasant”. The Yellow then turns southwest underneath Columbia Road with a station underneath Columbia between 17th and Champlain Streets NW, named “Lanier Heights-Adams Morgan” then turns west under Calvert Street, with the final stop in Phase II underneath Calvert between Connecticut Ave and 28th St NW, with an underground walkway to Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan, which should be renamed “Woodley Park-Zoo/Rock Creek”. Phase III provides better coverage to the DC National Cathedral, as well as American University. From Woodley Park-Zoo/Rock Creek, the Yellow would continue west then northwest underneath Massachusetts Avenue, with another station underneath Massachusetts between Wisconsin Avenue and 36th Street NW, named “National Cathedral/Naval Observatory-Westchester”. The Yellow would then continue until just before Ward Circle Park, then turn north and arrive at a new station that better serves the main DC campus of American University, named “Ward Circle-AU Main Campus”. The Yellow would then continue northeast underneath Nebraska Avenue until Tenley Circle, where it would terminate, with an underground walkway to the existing Red line station at Tenleytown-AU, which should be renamed “Tenleytown/Tenley Circle-AU Satellite”.

    I will make my next comment describing the Columbia Pike (VA)/9th/16th Metro line I have proposed later. Feel free to respond to these comments of mine while I am away.

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  22. Michael
    April 4th, 2016 at 10:07 | #22

    @Tim It looks like you have a lot of good ideas! One thing to note, the transit benefit was reinstated. See here:

    https://planitmetro.com/2016/02/01/metro-celebrates-permanent-restoration-of-transit-benefit/

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  23. JL
    April 4th, 2016 at 13:39 | #23

    Q: If I don’t add Metrobus to my SelectPass but still transfer between Metrorail and Metrobus, will I get the $0.50 transfer discount? A: No. Pass users do not get a discount when transferring from Metrorail to Metrobus.

    Micheal, this is a perfect example of the policy-making I referred to earlier that serves to deter people from using the transit system; inconsistent and unnecessary. Why penalize SelectPass holders who do not commute on Metrobus every day but may still use it on a pay-as-you-go basis?

    Here is another perspective: SelectPass holders have legitimately paid for 18 days’ worth of round-trip commuting fare, and had they not been pass holders, they would be entitled to the transfer discount when connecting to Metrobus trips (the same is true for all other Metrorail passes.) As such, why not implement a type of capping mechanism whereby SelectPass holders riding Metrobus on a pay-as-you-go basis are allowed up to 36 bus transfer discounts per month, and pay full bus fare only when they exceed the 36 transfers? This would be far more equitable.

    I will give you a personal example of how the current policy plays itself out. I live 0.6 miles south of Forest Glen station; it is a 10-minute walk if walking briskly. I commute via Metro to Arlington County. Sometimes, after work, I get off at Silver Spring station or at Wheaton station to run errands and go to stores. Afterwards, I take a Y or a Q bus, which drops me off on my block (coming from Wheaton), or across the street from my block (coming from Silver Spring.) Now that I have a SelectPass, when I stop off at downtown Silver Spring or Wheaton after work, it will be cheaper for me to take the train back home, even though it will be somewhat less convenient due to the additional walking involved (to SS or Wheaton stations and from Forest Glen station.) More than likely however, I’ll be willing to deal with the inconvenience to save a little money. I’m especially less likely to take the bus now, knowing that I won’t even get a discount. Ideally, we would not have a transit system that puts me in this situation. This is a simple demonstration of how inconsistent, non-seamless intermodal fair policy creates inconveniences for riders.

    As an aside, with talk of rail lines possibly being closed in the near future, continued ridership and revenue losses in the short-run seem to be inevitable for WMATA. In light of this, there is no better time to revamp some core components of the Authority’s fare policy in order retain current riders, and to attract as many riders as possible once the system is fully functional again.

    Please stop the madness WMATA! Don’t take a simple and straightforward pass concept and make it overly complicated. Good luck!

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  24. Michael
    April 7th, 2016 at 14:01 | #24

    @JL Thanks for sharing your concerns. SelectPass treats transfers just as all our other rail passes do. But that’s obviously not a reason to keep doing it this way. We’ll add this recommendation to the list of things to be evaluated post-pilot.

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  25. JL
    April 8th, 2016 at 00:38 | #25

    @Michael

    Thanks for following back up. Looking forward to post-pilot evaluation and next steps.

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  26. ColleenF
    April 13th, 2016 at 09:38 | #26

    I am participating in the pilot and want to evaluate how much I am saving by using the pass. Since my daily commute starts and ends at various stops, and I use the bus inconsistently, it’s hard to manually calculate my typical costs. (I just started a new job in mid-March so I don’t have a baseline of my typical travel costs). When I log into my SmarTrip account, I was hoping to see the cost of each trip. Since I’m using the pass, the cost is $0. Is there any way to know what my fare WOULD have been without the pass?

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  27. Michael
    April 13th, 2016 at 18:30 | #27

    @ColleenF Unfortunately the current set-up for passes only shows what you were actually charged, not the value of the trip. We are working on some enhancements to our SmarTrip account management page and I can add this to the list of suggestions for improvements.

    In the short term, you can look up the fares on the Trip Planner on wmata.com or here:

    http://selectpass.planitmetro.com/select/

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  28. trixie
    June 19th, 2016 at 08:42 | #28

    Rather late to the party on this, but I still have a question regarding the use of Select Pass with SmarTrip. My commute is from Grosvenor to Farragut North and it’s 4.20 each way during rush hour. Your planner says the 135 pass is best for me, paying 3.75/trip with the remaining 45 paid from the balance on my card. I get SmartBenefits. What pool of money does the .45 come out of? Is my remaining SmartBenefits balance loaded onto the card each month, or do I lose it? If it comes out of my pocket and I’m only using Metro for my daily commute because weekend service is so unreliable, what’s the value for someone getting SmartBenefits and has an overage?

    And, if the remaining SmartBenefits go on the card to cover overages, do I still have the option of having the personal purse on the card to pay for parking or the bus? Or do I have to have a second card? Your site only says “smart cards can hold stored value, plus two unique products, such as time-based passes” — can there be a “smartbenefits cash purse” and a pass and a personal purse?

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  29. Michael
    June 21st, 2016 at 15:37 | #29

    @trixie
    Hi, Trixie: Welcome to the party. Better late than never.

    You can have two passes loaded on your card at a time, PLUS the stored value in your personal and SmartBenefits purses on your card. So, you can buy a pass with benefits, then pay upcharges with benefits until that runs out. Your parking will continue to come out of the personal purse on your SmarTrip card.

    1) You ask your benefits administrator to divert $135 per month into Transit Pass Benefits. The remainder of the monthly benefit will show up on your SmarTrip card in the benefits purse.
    2) You go online on the 1st of the month and purchase a pass with your benefits.
    3) Each time you use the pass, the fare difference will be drawn out of your transit benefits purse on your card until that runs out.
    4) Parking will continue to be drawn out of your personal purse funds, as well as any upcharges if you’ve run out of benefits.

    I hope this helps!

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  30. Jen
    August 30th, 2016 at 10:39 | #30

    Hi! Does the bus add-on apply to ART busses? If not, please consider setting this up b/c there are several neighborhoods in Arlington that don’t have Metrobus access.

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  31. Michael
    August 30th, 2016 at 11:01 | #31

    @Jen
    SelectPass works only with Metrobus during the pilot phase. We will have to engage the local bus operators to establish revenue sharing formulae and we didn’t want to hold the pilot back while that process took place. As we get closer to full implementation, we will engage the local operators such as ART.

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