Metro traditionally charges sports franchises, concert promoters and event organizers fees or asks them to find sponsors to pay for extra service, which costs the agency about $100,000.
The board is set to consider the matter at its meeting Thursday.
“Metro is a part of the region’s economic recovery,” said Metro Board Chair Paul C. Smedberg. “Not only for our championship teams but also for other major events, and we want folks to know that Metro will be there when they want to ride.”
The waiver is among several strategies the transit agency is considering to lure people back to the system, which has seen a significant drop in both rail and bus ridership.
“WMATA’s service restoration goals are to maximize coverage and to prepare for returning ridership while protecting employee and customer health and responding to customer priorities,” according to an update set to be presented to the board this week.
Last month, the board announced that it would keep rail stations near local sporting venues open for 30 minutes after the end of a game that stretches beyond 11 p.m., which is the transit agency’s closing time. The program, which will run through the end of the year, will include only designated stations near sports venues. Metro said anyone who is at a designated station within a half-hour after a game will be allowed to ride, with no customers left behind. Other stations will allow riders to exit only after their ride home.
Last week, the transit agency announced it would expand late-night bus service on selected routes beginning June 6. In addition, Metro said it also would resume weekend service on some routes and resume weekday service on others. The shift would bring Metrobus operations to about 85 percent of what they were before the pandemic began.
Board members also are considering lowering fares to attract more riders. Though some people are returning to public transportation as vaccination rates have increased, Metro officials said they are not seeing the gains they’d expected. Luring riders back to the system is a priority for the transit agency, since 80 percent of the system’s revenue comes from Metrorail fares.
The system has stayed afloat largely due to an infusion of money from the federal government. The $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed in March gave Metro more than a year’s worth of financial cushion, buying it time to adjust to new post-pandemic commute and travel patterns. Key to it all, however, is bringing riders back.
Metro is running at about 80 percent of its pre-pandemic service. The rail system carries about 100,000 passengers on weekdays, compared with an average of 626,000 before the pandemic.