- The Washington Times - Friday, June 20, 2003

So, now it’s official: Starting June 29, Metro rail, bus and parking fares will increase. For example, the maximum rail fare will jump from $3.25 to $3.60; the cost of reserving a monthly parking spot from $65 to $95; and daily parking rates from $2.25 to $3.00 at most lots.

To be certain, painful as the fare increases are, these increases in user fees are certainly better than increased taxes. But, based on what we witness on a daily basis while riding Metro, much of the added dough will be squandered by an increasingly dysfunctional system.

Take for example, the Red Line. If you go to Grosvenor or Twinbrook Metro around 9-10:00 on a weekday morning, you’ll often stand for close to 10 minutes waiting for a train to take you to downtown Washington: During this time, it’s not unusual to see three or four virtually empty trains headed toward Shady Grove. There are the fare card machines which force you to stand in front of them like a peasant before an oracle, shoving a dollar into the slot, only to have the machine spit it back to you seconds later — again and again. On other occasions, the machines eat your card. So, you march over to the station manager, who makes you fill out a form so you can get back the $2.60 or so that the machine stole from you. Months later, you realize that, unless you’re prepared to get on the phone for several hours, you have no chance of getting your money back.

And that’s just the beginning. There are escalator and elevator problems just about everywhere. And there are places like Union Station with lots of unruly youths but very few police in evidence, especially at night.

Hopefully, the added money will be spent productively to fix the security flaws and myriad other problems that are making Metro’s subways a less pleasant way to get around.

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