Over at Greater Greater Washington today, Michael Perkins points to a long-time problem for tourists and visitors to the capital--the Metro ticket machines. The machine offers three different fare columns, differentiating fare based on time of day. This overwhelming chart confuses people, Perkins says, and creates unnecessary barriers to navigating WMATA trains.
The solution? Perkins suggests axing the different time-of-day fares for those without SmarTrip cards:
One way to simplify fares for tourists and people who don't have SmarTrip cards would be to simply make a fixed fare, equal to the peak-of-the-peak fare, that applies all the time to paper farecards. With this, Metro could also eliminate of the paper farecard surcharge.
Such a move would not be without drawbacks. SmarTrip card usage is high for bus (78%) and rail (82%), but there are still barriers for people with disabilities and limited incomes that prevent them from using SmarTrip cards. Any move to reduce the discounts available on paper farecards should be implemented alongside improvements that allow everyone to use SmarTrip.
But a table with just one, instead of three, columns would simplify the system particularly for those visiting DC, who are very likely to buy paper farecards. Since everyone knows (or should know!) what station they're going to, it makes the decision easy. You no longer need to know what time you're going or returning. If you're traveling during the peak of the peak, there's even a small discount compared to today because the fare for paper and Smartrip are the same.
Are there any other drawbacks you see to this idea?