Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Do Feds' Free Rides make Metro Worse?

From Richard:
The party line is that Metro doesn't have a dedicated source of funding, and that's why it's so bad. I say this argument is mostly bunk.

Forty percent of the riders, or so goes the conventional wisdom, are feds. Until recently, they rode completely for free (and probably took a lot of personal trips for free) thanks to a super hefty $230 monthly transit benefit. With the return of the transit benefit to $125 per month, many of them will now have to fork over a little for their daily commutes. But still, even with the fare hikes, Metro will likely be way cheaper than any other way to commute--for them, not me.

So 40 percent of the ridership will probably ride without Metro lifting a finger to provide a service worth paying for.

I can hear the internal monologue these riders have: "Yeah Metro sucks, but it's free."

Can we lower expectations any more? In that kind of a model, what incentive is there for Metro to improve and attract new riders or retain the feds it currently has?

I'm convinced this is why Metro has this huge PR apparatus to placate the low bar feds with a bunch of cockamamie stats about spending on this, that and the other, mystery shoppers, charts, bogus reports, public hearings, Metroforward schemes and all the other associated Metro BS accoutrements.

Am I totally off here?

Full disclosure: I voted with my wallet and said goodbye to Metro some time ago. Now, through a combination of carpooling, telecommuting, and the occasional solo drive, I barely have to hand over one dime of my heard-earned money to Metro.

I'm interested if there are other people out there who have cut back or eliminated Metro from their lives.

I'd like to support mass transit in the DC area, but Metro? Nah.