Okay, I admit it. I made a mistake. It may have even been regarded as an egregious error in judgment. But I was late for work, it was raining, my newspaper lay sopping wet on my doorstep, and in the spirit of the holidays, I had 12 gifts I needed to get to my family that evening. So I did it. And now I really regret it.

I drove my car to Silver Spring Metro.

It was a seemingly innocent endeavor, really. I knew that Metro had raised parking lot prices not only as an inducement for Metro passengers to take the bus but also to deter commuters who work in Silver Spring from parking in lots reserved for Metro passengers. I was, therefore, armed with 10 quarters and my Farecard. What I didn't expect was that Metro had, once again, raised parking rates at the lot. It was $1.35. Then it was $2.25. Now it is a steep $3.50. My paltry $2.50 didn't even get me past the seventh hour on the meter.

I don't mind paying for my parking. I even praise Metro for making the downtown commute so effortless. What I do mind is Metro's influencing my commuting decisions. If the intent is to deter Silver Spring business people from parking in Metro lots, then install booths similar to those found at Rockville, Twinbrook and Grosvenor Metro stations where bus transfers are needed to exit the lots to safeguard against abuses. If, on the other hand, the intent is to encourage commuters to ride the buses, then improve bus service. Either way, we commuters should have the freedom to choose our own commuting patterns.

When the daily price to commute downtown exceeds $6 per day, I wonder whether it's not really easier to drive downtown and park. And when the ultimate question is whether I want to spend $6.50 to commute by Metro, or roughly the same amount to spend a little more time in my warm car commuting downtown, I have a difficult time agreeing with Metro's logic.

VALERIE ANDERSON Silver Spring