September 1, 2010

D.C. Metro charging higher fares during peak hours

This week, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) began charging a peak-of-the-peak fee for Metrorail trips taken between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. weekdays, completing the phased implementation of peak-of-the-peak pricing.

 

A 20-cent peak-of-the-peak fee for trips taken between 4:30 and 6 p.m. weekdays has been in place since August 3. The fee is based on the starting time of a trip, or when a customer enters the fare gate at a Metrorail station.

 

Additional programming changes are being required to implement the reduction of the cost of a SmarTrip card from $5 to $2.50 to encourage customers to take advantage of SmarTrip savings and convenience.

 

To introduce the change, Metro must make technological upgrades to implement a new fare gate exit rule requiring SmarTrip card users to have full fare value on their cards when they exit the Metrorail system. Those upgrades are expected to be complete by early fall, at which time the price of SmarTrip cards will drop.

 

The new exit rule for SmarTrip card users will mirror the current requirement that paper farecard users must have sufficient fare to exit the Metrorail system. SmarTrip card users will no longer be able to exit the Metrorail system without sufficient fare when the rule is enacted later this fall.

 

Currently, approximately 75 percent of Metrorail riders and 60 percent of Metrobus riders use SmarTrip cards. Metrorail riders who pay their fare with a SmarTrip card instead of a paper farecard save 25 cents per trip. Metrobus riders who pay with a SmarTrip card instead of cash save 20 cents per trip.

 

Customers who use SmarTrip cards also receive a discount of 50 cents when transferring between Metrobus and Metrorail. Bus-to-bus transfers with a SmarTrip card are valid for free, unlimited Metrobus connections within a two-hour period.

 

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