Making Metro fair at their board meetings

Save Our System is a coalition powered by riders, community based organizations, grassroots, congregations, small businesses, workers, unions and others who have had enough with WMATA's neglect for their riding public. We know the system can be better, fairer and more reliable. While our platform includes: 1) We want a safe and reliable transit system, 2) we want a funded transit System and 3) We want a fair system. We ask that those who are testifying focus on what is needed for the system to be fair to you due to the fact that the WMATA Board is not a decision maker on how to fund the system and largely play an adviser role with the regional governments.

Here are some basic pointers and background.

What is Save Our System’s Make it fair platform asking for?

  1. Reject fare hikes and implement a 2$ flat fare. 

    1. Only about one-fifth of the nation’s rail transit systems use distance-based pricing, and just six percent use time based pricing.

    2. The current fare system is too complicated.

    3. WMATA is not concerned with the needs of low-income and working class riders particularly those of color and the impact of its brutally unfair fare system.

    4. WMATA fares are simply too high. Many of WMATA’s riders now pay more than $12 per day to get downtown – and that doesn’t even include parking at the station.

    5. WMATA’s declining ridership is in part due to the skyrocketing fares that have made it much more accessible for people to carpool, bike or jump in their car and clog our already jammed highways. Many are turning to Uber, which has taken advantage of WMATA’s downfall by offering fares which are lower than transit fares.

    6. A flat fare and free transfers has the potential to boost ridership and regional commerce because riders won’t have to choose between a trip with WMATA or walking in order to afford necessities. 

  2. Allow free transfers from local bus-to-rail, rail-to local bus or local bus-to-local bus within two hours of the time you paid your fare. 

    1. For a vast number of the transit system’s daily riders, free transfers would create faster, cheaper or more direct ways to get around the area.

    2. Riders within D.C. would no longer have to choose between a two-fare bus and Metro trip, or a long, slow bus ride.

    3. A commuter from the suburbs would no longer have to walk several blocks home from the subway to avoid paying an additional fare for a bus.

    4. It will draw enormous numbers of people into public transit, and it’s the right thing to do.

    5. Although free transfers will initially cost WMATA lost income, the plan will soon increase the number of transit riders. New York implemented the free transfer system in 1997. Within a year, ridership increased by a whopping 15%, providing increased revenue and a much needed boost to the entire system.

  3. Implement a system that takes into account passengers’ ability to pay, rather than simply on their ages. 

    1. No one should be criminalized by not being able to afford public transit

    2. Metro transit police is disportionately targeting black youth for fare evasion, leading to dozens of videos shared on social media of Metro Transit Police committing acts of brutality against WMATA’s ridership.

    3. Those being disproportionately targeted by transit police are the same communities most impacted by service cuts and fare hikes; namely communities east of the river.

    4. Grades k-12 in addition to adult learners are supposed to ride for free whoever the DC one cards often do not work, WMATA needs make sure safety nets like these are properly working

    5. Currently, if you do not pay your fare you may receive a $50 ticket, if you are unable to pay the ticket you may face a bench warrant, but if a rider is unable to pay WMATA’s fares, how can they be expected to pay a $50 fine?

  4. Expand hours of operation. Bring back late night service! Notes:

    1. The lost of late night service has had a detrimental effect on workers and local businesses as well as the local economy.

    2. Nearly 2,000 to 4,000 jobs are anticipated to be lost from DC alone. Figures are similar for the rest of the Metro accessible region.

    3. 8 Million to 12 Million in sales tax revenue is being lost per year in the District. Similar numbers can be found across the region.

  5. Improve safety on public transit for women, trans, queer and other historically marginalized voices. Notes:

    1. WMATA has set a great example for data collection efforts and community-based solutions to public sexual harassment and assault on public transit by: developing an online reporting system; training transit staff and officers to respond to incidents in conjunction with Collective Action for Safe Spaces.

    2. We would like to ask WMATA to take a step forward and provide regular bystander intervention and competency trainings to their staff.

    3. Currently when trans and queer communities face harassment while riding metro, their complaints and pleas for help often are left on unanswered for the way that WMATA and by extension their employees see them. We ask that women, trans and queer people are included in WMATA’s vision of their ridership and who they serve.

  6. We need transparency and broader public outreach on major transit changes. Notes:

    1. Last year WMATA held one public hearing in DC on their fare hikes and service cuts. WMATA should hold public hearing in every region that receives WMATA services.

    2. Board meetings should be more accessible. Board meetings should be held at a time when the average rider can attend. AAC and RAC meetings are held at night, why not WMATA board meetings?

    3. Board meetings and public hearings should be held in meeting rooms large enough to account for public participation.