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Dr. Gridlock
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Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 03/16/2011

Should Metro add unlimited-use passes?

There’s a move afoot to pressure Metro to introduce a pricing system that could help reduce road traffic and fill seats during underused periods, one in use in other major systems: Unlimited-use passes that let you pay for your daily commute, then ride off-peak for free. They wouldn’t differentiate between bus and rail, and you could subscribe to automatic renewal.

The idea is that you use things more when you pay a flat rate and don’t have to think about amount--the way Internet shifted when people moved from pay-by-the-minute-or-megabyte to monthly.

The region would benefit because people would go for transit rather than clogging the roads for everyday miscellaneous errands. Metro would benefit because it would still recieve revenue when riders took sick or vacation days or when the area shuts down because of snowstorms. And riders wouldn’t have to think about how much a ride cost. The more they rode, the better value they’d get.

Thought it’s all you can eat, it’s not one-size fits all. The price of a monthly pass would be based on the normal fare of two trips on your normal commuting path each weekday. If you go over that amount because you take a different trip than usual, that would be deducted from a reserve on your card. But other trips that day would not incur a separate charge.

Engineer and transportation whiz Michael Perkins created the Web site http://www.metrosmartpasses.org to get the public thinking about pricing issues and build support. The idea has been endorsed by Arlington County and former Metro board member Chris Zimmerman; the Coalition for Smarter Growth; and Greater Greater Washington.

By Luke Rosiak  |  12:15 PM ET, 03/16/2011

 
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