Metro’s timing for a fare hike couldn’t be worse


(Ben Claassen III/For Express)

A woman was positioned oddly close to the driver of the bus I boarded Tuesday night. I couldn’t figure out what she was doing until she stuck out her arm and told him, “Keep going straight.”

The fact that a passenger had been drafted to serve as a navigator seemed like a bad sign, but I figured we were at least headed in the right direction. Two minutes later, the driver suddenly pulled the bus over and got out. That’s when I bailed too.

After walking most of the way home, I decided there was exactly one redeeming thing about that journey: It took place before this weekend. A fare increase that goes into effect Sunday will up the price of a Metrobus ride from $1.60 to $1.75. Metrorail fares will rise too, by an average of about 10 cents a trip.

I realize there’s never an awesome time to raise fares, but this seems like a particularly terrible one.

Track work continues to disrupt everyone’s weekend plans. Get ready for a doozy this Saturday and Sunday: Dupont Circle, Farragut North and the Red Line platform at Metro Center are all closed. That’s already a recipe for a lot of unhappy travelers. Just wait till they see their SmarTrip balances.

Summertime heat inevitably leads to the arrival of hot cars and exacerbates the annoyance caused by train delays — ask anyone who rides the Red, Orange and Blue lines, all of which had major issues this week.

And did I mention how terrible some bus service can be?

But what makes the timing so bizarre is that we’re a month away from the opening of the Silver Line. Metro has been working its caboose off to get folks psyched for the expansion. Employees have been handing out Silver Line-branded swag. Commercials suggest the five new stops will improve Washingtonians’ dating lives, career prospects and overall sanity. Only if you wanted to erase the gains made from these efforts would you start charging people more money right now.

I know Metro needs the cash, and that this price hike has been in the works for a while. But if I were in charge, I’d hold off until at least after the Fourth of July — you know, the holiday celebrating Americans’ refusal to pay unfairly high fees.

 

Read Previous Columns:

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Vicky Hallett is a MisFit columnists and the Fit editor for Express.
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Vicky Hallett | June 27