Like a bad penny, Metro's desire to forbid bus riders to use dollar bills to pay their fares just won't go away.
Some of Metro's riders are cheats, which gives impetus to the movement.
The idea first surfaced a year ago, but was defeated in a hail of public ridicule and unfavorable newspaper articles like this one.
Yesterday, Metro management types tried again. Then said they could save about $300,000 annually if they could eliminate dollar bills from the bus system. Dollar bills jam the fare boxes, requiring that they be emptied twice a day, then must be unfoled and counted by hand. That takes seven full-time and four part-time employes. Cost: $188,600.
Fare boxes are emptied by giant vacuums that sometimes tear the bills accidentally. People sometimes tear the bills on purpose, and drop only half a bill into the fare box. Cost: $100,000 in lost revenue.
Tom Forrest, who works in Metro's revenue office, carried into the board room yesterday two large plastic bags stuffed with green bill fragments. Everybody oohed and aahed.
"Look at that evidence," said the Rev. Jerry Moore, a D.C. member whose constituents pay no more than 60 cents to ride a bus. "How can we ignore that?"
Cleatus Barnett of Montgomery County, whose constituents pay as much as $1.20 per bus trip, thought an alternative should be found to the dollar bill within 60 days.
Fairfax County residents pay as much as $1.70 for a one-way trip. If the dollar bill is eliminated, that would be six quarters and two dimes because nobody has seen a half-dollar or a Susan B. Anthony dollar coin in memory. Fairfax County member Joseph Alexander suggested a task force be appointed to study the matter, a classic legislative device to make something unpleasant go away forever.
Shiva Pant, director of transportation for Fairfax County and one of Metro management's most severe critics on the subject of cost, controls, handed reporters a piece of paper figuring that the amount of money involved was only .14 of 1 percent of the total Metro budget.
Moore, who had just come from a prayer meeting at the White House, said that he and Alexander and Barnett will meet and devise an idea all can support.His offer was accepted and his group was immediately dubbed. The Miracle Committee.