Decongestion Pricing

Sorry to be a homer, but I have to point out this welcome news for Washingtonians. The head of Metro, our transit system, has announced ...
by | March 30, 2007

Metro_3 Sorry to be a homer, but I have to point out this welcome news for Washingtonians. The head of Metro, our transit system, has announced that he will not raise fares.

Higher fares are obviously necessary at times -- subway rides are no longer a nickel -- but Metro's previously announced rate hike was a dumb idea. The reason is that it would have imposed higher costs on the system's most reliable users.

Metro already charges people more when they use its rail system during rush hour. Such peak fares would have been raised even higher. What's worse, the canceled plan would have charged premiums for those getting on or off at the most crowded downtown stations.

This would have been a misguided version of congestion pricing. That idea, made famous in London, charges drivers a fee for bringing their cars into the busiest parts of town during the working day. The point of congestion pricing, however, is to get people out of their cars and into public transit.

Metro was going the opposite way. Extra fees for the most-used stations would have encouraged more people to drive, which should not be the goal of a public transit agency.

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