Is Metro too cheap?
We did a little number crunching and found that in 2007 dollars, Metro, in some ways, is cheaper now than it was in the '80s. Back in 1983, the maximum fare on Metro, in 2007 dollars, was $5.14. Today, the max you can pay is $4.50. See a legible version of the chart here.
Granted, we are mathematically challenged, and we only looked at the "max fare" column from this chart, but it does seem odd that Metro hasn't increased their fares more based on this cursory analysis. Maybe there's a psychological barrier around the $5 mark.
The same situation exists in NYC, where the nominal fare has been going down. NYC is a little easier to figure out since there's a $2 flat rate, no matter how far you ride the system.
Would you pay more if the system would become more reliable as a result?
We did our inflation adjustments using The Inflation Calculator. Below is the raw data. If you more mathematically inclined people have something to add or want to point out a gross error in my calculations, please feel free.