Sunday, December 23, 2007

Speaking of Transportation Costs

WMATA is raising peak travel-time fares on Metro by 30 to 60 cents. From the transit agency's perspective, this makes sense--demand is highest at these times (sometimes to the point where the system is over-capacity), and so raising peak fares will encourage riders to travel at off-peak times.

On the other hand, any policy that discourages metro ridership at peak periods encourages automobile use at times when DC area roads are already jammed. If there were a London or Singapore type arrangement, under which drivers would have to pay a fee to drive into the city, an increase in metro fares could be accompanied by an increase in the cost of driving, so that travelers who were flexible would be encouraged to avoid both metro and the roads during peak periods. But DC has no such mechanism. It really needs one.


Dharm said...

There isn't going to be a congestion pricing zone in DC because of Congress. While it is something DC government can do, Congress will block it. The other point you didn't touch on is where are all those drivers going to park? I don't think many parking garages specialize in having empty spaces, they price so they have a few spaces to offer people coming into town for appointments (and even then they fill up when you see those "lot full" signs mainly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays). If more people are driven to driving then parking rates will go up and some will go back to Metro. While taking Metro may be more expensive for those boarding beyond the beltway, it is cheaper for those living closer in. Some of those people who drive now because parking is priced where it is will switch back to Metro.

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