Metro, which was supposed to rescue Washingtonians from O. Roy Chalk and his "robber baron" image as the head of the privately owned D.C. Transit System, has now embraced Chalk's way of doing business.

At its meeting Thursday, the Metro board proposed to charge bus passengers a nickel for a transfer. That means everyone whose travel patterns do not fit the bus route pattern Metro has adopted for its own operating convenience would have to pay extra. Chalk was slapped down on at least two occasions when he made the identical proposal.

If the truth be known, Metro deserves blame for many needless bus transfers. Its board has conscientiously avoided revamping the archaic bus route pattern it inherited from D.C. Transit and three other suburban bus companies nearly a decade ago. It deep-sixed a costly consultant's study on the subject without even giving it serious consideration.

For instance, under the proposal: If you live in Southwest Washington and take a bus to the Bureau of Engraving, where you must transfer to the 14th Street line to get downtown, you would pay for the inconvenience of having to get off one bus and get onto another. That makes sense?

Actually, it would make sense to offer offer a discount to those who suffer the inconvenience of transferring.

Why not set a fare that raises the targeted sum, and not penalize one group of riders? Hearings begin next month at which the public's voice can be heard.