Metro riders won’t be done figuring out Rush Plus before they need to start calculating the effects of the July 1 fare increases. Rush Plus, the new service that will affect some trains but not other trains at some rush times but not other rush times, will be simple by comparison.
Knock 20 cents off your rush-hour rail trip, because you won’t pay the peak-of-the-peak surcharge anymore. Add a dollar if you use a paper Farecard. That’s not all — not by a long shot — and you’ve got just two weeks to study up.
Here’s the crash course:
Metro imposes a 25-cent surcharge on riders who use paper Farecards rather than the plastic SmarTrip cards. Apparently, that didn’t hurt enough. Even though the push to get riders to abandon paper for plastic has been very successful — more than 80 percent of rail riders use the cards — Metro thinks it can do better.
When the surcharge was a quarter, it wasn’t in the forefront of many minds. A rider who forgot her SmarTrip card and had to go with paper asked me recently whether the fare increases already were in effect, because she noticed tht the fare gate deducted 25 cents more than she was used to paying.
Just about everyone will notice the $1 deduction. (For seniors and people with disabilities, it will be 50 cents.) Join the other riders who will be buying SmarTrip cards over the next few weeks. Five rides and it pays for itself.
For those of you who can take the summer off and come back Sept. 1, Metro picked that date to begin offering $3 rebates to people who register their cards online after buying them. The cards still will cost $5, but $3 will be refunded to the card five days after its first use, the transit authority says.
The $1 surcharge on paper Farecards is likely to be a lot more effective in modifying behavior than the peak-of-the-peak surcharge was. The 20-cent charge imposed between 7:30 and 9 a.m. and between 4:30 and 6 p.m. on weekdays did not fulfill its stated mission of moving many riders away from Metrorail during its most crowded hours. It did make a lot of money, though, because most 9-to-5 workers couldn’t modify their schedules to avoid the extra payment.
The sweet spot in all this might be the elimination of the peak-of-the-peak surcharge during hours when Metro is adding service on some lines. Rush Plus will add trains to the Orange and Yellow lines between 6:30 and 9 a.m. and between 3:30 and 6 p.m. weekdays. If you live in Columbia Heights, don’t own a car, work 9 to 5 and commute to L’Enfant Plaza on one of those extra Yellow Line trains, life is good.
Well, pretty good. You still have to deal with the increase in the Metrorail boarding charge. That basic fare will rise from $1.95 to $2.10 during the peak periods of 5 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, and from midnight to closing on weekends. After a trip of more than three miles, a distance fare kicks in, up to the maximum fare, which will increase from $5 to $5.75.
The off-peak boarding charge will rise from $1.60 to $1.70. The maximum off-peak fare will rise from $2.75 to $3.50. (Add a dollar to any of those charges if you are using a paper card.)
The fare for a local or limited stop Metrobus rider paying with a SmarTrip card goes from $1.50 to $1.60. There’s no change in the $3.65 SmarTrip fare for an express bus.
For those paying cash, the fare goes up a dime to $1.80 on the local and limited stop buses and from $3.85 on the expresses to $4.
Metrobus’s two airport routes, the 5A to Dulles International Airport and the B30 to Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport, cost $6, with or without SmarTrip. (Metrobus drivers don’t carry cash. Exact change is required on all routes.)
The parking fee at Metro lots and garages will rise by 25 cents. If a short downtown commute with Rush Plus could be considered the sweet spot, then Shady Grove to the center of the District could be the sour spot. A commuter who parks at the garage then boards Metrorail early enough to avoid the peak-of-the-peak charge for a ride to Dupont Circle and leaves early enough to avoid it on the return will pay almost 12 percent more for a day of travel under the new fares — without seeing any of those Rush Plus trains. That commuter should get a bike and ride to the station. The annual charge for renting a bike locker drops from $200 to $120.
Seniors and people with disabilities who have discount cards will continue to pay half the peak fare on Metrorail and half the regular Metrobus fare. But because the peak fare is increasing, the discount fares will increase proportionately, up to a maximum of $2.85 on Metrorail.
Fares for the paratransit service remain capped at $7. But the amount that riders with disabilities pay is set at twice the amount for an equivalent trip on trains and buses, via the fastest route available. For many MetroAccess riders, their fares will increase simply because the train and bus fares will increase.
These types of passes will be available:
●A one-day pass for rail with no time restriction for $14.
●A seven-day pass for rail that can be added to SmarTrip cards. The cost rises from $47 to $57.50.
●A 28-day pass for rail that can be added to SmarTrip for $230.
●A seven-day pass available on paper Farecards. The cost rises from $32.35 to $35.
●A seven-day regional bus pass. The cost rises by a dollar to $16.
●A seven-day regional senior/disabled pass. The cost rises 50 cents to $8.