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Metro could have lost upwards of $2 million in fare and parking revenue last Wednesday during the complete closure of the rail system, which allowed for inspections on hundreds of cables as well as repairs.
That figure appears in a public document before Metro’s board on Thursday that would authorize General Manager Paul Wiedefeld to “temporarily reduce fares during a declared emergency” at his discretion. As the document explains, the general manager effectively waived fares at certain Orange, Blue, and Silver line stations on Monday, March 14, when a fire near the McPherson Square station resulted in day-long delays, by opening fare gates. This allowed riders to enter and exit crowded stations without being penalized for it.
“Total lost fare revenue due to the initial service disruption on March 14 is estimated at less than $100,000,” the document reads. “However, total lost Metrorail fare and parking fee revenue due to the system closure on March 16 is estimated more than $2 million, though a portion of that loss may be offset by higher Metrobus revenue.”
The proposed board action notes that “future incidents may arise where additional flexibility is needed to waive fares during times of emergency,” even though Metro is already set to implement an entry/exit grace period of 15 minutes in the rail system by July. The general manager would have to report these decisions.
While Metro is bleeding revenue from lost ridership, Wiedefeld has said he prioritizes safety and reliability.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery