Ok, here it is: the proposed Metro fare hike. It is as confusing as it is steep. It's a disaster. An abortion. A miscarriage of common sense.
Since moving to Washington in 2001, the Metro has gotten progressively worse. It has been unable to handle the hordes of new riders. Rush hour trains come every four or five minutes now instead of every other minute. There's barely enough room to stand on a platform, never mind a six car train. The Friday and Saturday night trains that annoyingly came every 20 minutes now arrive every 30 minutes. I can't think of one aspect of the system that has improved. Nothing. Even the new "doors closing" annoucements and chimes rub me the wrong way. And they still want more.
I didn't mind the last increase three years ago. An extra dime on the train and a nickel on the bus? It sucks. But it's reasonable. I was expecting a similar increase after Metro announced their $116,000,000.00 budget shortfall. This shortfall was caused by financial incompetence, not by improved conditions or anything like that. As Metro gets worse, the bugdet follows, and now we're in some kind of cycle of ignorance. So it's bullshit that the everyday commuter should have to pay for Metro's fiscal bumbling. It's bullshit, but that's the way it is sometimes.
Instead of the expected nickel and dime increase, we have an increase of up to $2.10. Per ride. And it's not just the commuters who are getting gang-raped here. If this plan ever becomes policy, I'm looking at an increase of fifty cents per ride. Fifty cents more to travel from Friendship Heights to Dupont. Fifty cents a ride. One dollar a day. Assuming someone rides the Metro 300 times a year...that's a pretty significant dent in the wallet, isn't it? This is an iPod's worth of bullshit. It's one percent of your salary (if you're an entry-level worker) being spent on a fare increase caused by ineptitude.
So, let's see who this is going to really hurt:
1. Tourists. The new plan just kills anyone who doesn't own a SmarTrip card. The difference between SmarTrip fares and regular fares is going to be significant. Seventy-five cent difference just for riding a bus. Ouch. I doubt many tourists are going to go out of their way to buy cards, so they'll be hit the hardest. Although DC depends on tourist dollars, I don't think a Metro fare increase is going to be the difference between a family vacationing at Disneyland or in Washington. I'm OK with screwing over tourists.
2. Long-distance commuters. This is just insane. We wanted people to stop driving into Washington. Remember? Traffic around here is a notorious shitshow. So, just maybe charging people an extra dollar a pop to ride a train is not the way to improve the situation on our highways.
Oh, and don't worry. They're considering increasing parking rates at Metro garages. I can't believe Metro found a way to make itself more expensive than unleaded gasoline, but here we are.
3. Anyone working downtown. There's a thirty-five cent charge for anyone who gets off at a downtown station. "Downtown" also includes the Court House, Rosslyn, Union Station, etc. This is total bullshit. Metro wants to make these stations less busy? Good luck with that. This is where the jobs are. Commuters shouldn't be penalized for going to their fucking jobs. I mean, do you really want people to work in the city or not? If you want us to work in Tyson's Corner, fine. Good plan.
(I already mentioned this once, but I feel the need to reiterate that "reverse commuters" can just shrivel up and die for all I care. Your trains are empty and you miss out on this bullshit surcharge. You motherfuckers. I need a job in Rockville or Silver Spring.)
4. Drunk people. "Rush hour" is being extended to Fridays between 2 and 3am. Ok. Fine. If you want to send trains every five minutes in that one hour period, that's awesome. I don't think that's going to happen. Trains are going to come every 25 minutes and drunk people will be charged extra just because Metro feels like they can get away with it. There is no reason for this increase other than to pick on people who spend money in DC establishments. I mean, do they want us to just drink at home? Because I have no problem with that. Seriously, it's like Metro is daring me to get hammered on a Friday night by myself while I'm playing Guitar Hero II. I've done it before and I will do it again, you fucks.
5. Anyone with a job. I love how Metro wants discounts for people riding between 9:30am and 3pm. If I had a fucking choice, I'd "get up at 12, start to work at 1, take an hour for lunch, and then at 2 we're done." But I don't have a fucking choice because I have a fucking job. The only way this will help ease congestion is if the people who can go to work whenever the fuck they want (rich people/higher-ups) decide to start coming in at 10am. Wow, a discount for the people who don't need it. DC is the best.
By the way, if you work downtown at a 9-5, you are doubly fucked. DC will leave no orifice unfucked. If you work downtown at a 9-5 and you're commuting from Vienna? Oh man. I would just give up. Move somewhere else because DC clearly doesn't want you.
Ok. I'm probably missing some key demographics, but I'm starting to hyperventilate and I need a break from this garbage. I can't believe how many times I've typed a derivative of the word "fuck." So, let's end with the best quote from the Post's coverage of the story: "Riders have reacted angrily to any proposed fare increases."
NO SHIT, SHERLOCK.
I'm going to keep going with this as long as I can. Send suggestions to me via comments or e-mail.
6. The homeless. Whether we like it or not (and let's be honest, we all hate it), the homeless have every right to ride a bus or train from one line to another. Busing is especially important for the homeless because, well, I don't know why. But there's always a homeless dude on any bus I take after 8pm. Anyways, you know who can't afford SmarTrip cards? Homeless people. They're going to have to spend an extra 75 cents to get from part of town to another. 75 cents buys food. It buys water. It shouldn't have to buy a stupid fare increase.
I guess this is really only a small concern. It's not like Washington has a shit-ton of homeless people or anything. I mean, if we did, this kind of fare increase would seem really insensitive, wouldn't it?
7. People who don't live anywhere near a Metro stop. So, you need to get a SmarTrip card to avoid the buggering you're going to get if you pay for public transporation with a proletariat fare card? Well, I hope you live near Shady Grove, Metro Center, or one of the few Metro stations that actually dispense the damned things. And if you don't live near a Metro station or if you exclusively ride the bus? Well, then you're fucked. Enjoy running the thankless errand of getting to a Metro stop and riding around DC all day just for the opportunity to spend five dollars on a card.
This would especially suck if you're one of those Ward 4 people who live nowhere near a subway stop. Can you imagine catching the S line, hopping on a subway, transferring to the Red line, paying five dollars, and then doubling back. All to avoid paying an extra 75 cents per bus ride. That sounds like a soul-crushing experience. Way to improve city morale, Metro!