Thursday, May 23, 2013

Does the Transit Subsidy Make Metro Worse?

From Steve:
I live in Arlington and commute to DC on Metro daily. So does my roommate.

I pay every cent of my Metro costs out of my pocket. No pretax discount, and my employer doesn't chip in a dime. My roommate, on the other hand, is a federal worker and doesn't have to pay a single cent of his own money for his daily commute on Metro.

Our levels of frustration with Metro are quite different as a result.

My question is whether or not Metro would be better if it couldn't count on 40 percent of its riders being heavily subsidized. Shouldn't Metro have to compete for all riders rather than just counting on a large chunk of riders saying "I know it sucks, but at least it's free." (Yes, I know Metro is not completely free for all federal workers.)
Another reason to question the subsidy is that it allows Metro to raise fares with very little grumbling from a huge portion of the ridership. I just don't think that's a fair system.
I ask this question in all seriousness. It's obvious that Metro needs some kind of fundamental changes at the very foundation, and I'd like to know what others out there think about this particular topic.
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