Transportation Policy

Is There Something Smaller than a Baby Step?


crowded platform

…a mouse step? A Barbie step?

The D.C. metro system announced today that even though Inauguration Day is a holiday (and therefore fares are usually reduced and parking is free) they're debating considering the possibility of maybe, just maybe, charging peak rates and the usual cost for parking on a day when up to 4 million people are expected to pour into the D.C. area.

Holy supply and demand! This is actually decently rational behavior for a public transit system. Worried about a swell of users in a limited system? Most public systems simply brace themselves, run a couple of additional trains, and hope that no one gets pushed onto the tracks from a crowded platform. 

The price increase is so small it probably isn't enough to discourage many users. But at least the system will recoup more of the costs of carrying all the Obamaphiles, rather than passing on the costs to those of us who will be hiding in the suburbs somewhere, watching Obama's lips turn blue on HDTV.

Bonus: The city is also letting bars stay open until 4:00 a.m. If this is what Obama's America is like, perhaps I was wrong about the man.

NEXT: Biofuels Bailout?

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  1. Free, efficient public transportation to the coronation of our leader is a civil right, wingnuts. Google it.

  2. I checked, and I’m afraid lefiti is right.

  3. How about a link on the free public transportation? I cannot find anything.

  4. no link, lefiti is right, end of story.

  5. Bonus: The city is also letting bars stay open until 4:00 a.m. If this is what Obama’s America is like, perhaps I was wrong about the man.

    The Cult of the Presidency continues to baffle me.

  6. I recall DC’s awesome metro was built with federal money (95% of which did not come from DC) under the pretext that all US citizens would share & enjoy the benefits when they made pilgrimage to see the monuments + worship at the capitol or whatever. Actual result? DC residents get nice, reliable public transportation while non-locals get squeezed again when they come to visit.

  7. The city is also letting bars stay open until 4:00 a.m.

    Great. Unless things in DC have changed, they’ll still shut down the subway before then. So all you hammered revelers trying to get home will get thrown in the tank for public intox, thus defraying the cost of the celebration even more.

  8. [i]DC residents get nice, reliable public transportation…[/i]

    I take it you don’t actually LIVE in DC, Tommy_Grand…

  9. Trolling is a civil right!

  10. Name a major US city with a metro better than DC

  11. “Better” is pretty broad, but NYC in terms of coverage/operating hours, Chicago in terms of operating hours, Boston in terms of coverage, San Francisco in terms of coverage (assuming we’re counting the Muni and BART)…

    I’ve lived here for 8 years and counting, and the Metro is great for whisking “non-locals” (read: tourists) from their parked rental car at the New Carrollton stop to the Smithsonian, but mediocre at best for getting me to/from work during the week, and godawful at getting me around the city on the weekends.

    Non-locals have been whistling the “Metro is a giant federal tax boondoggle that benefits DC residents only” tune since before the system opened. Repeating it multiple times doesn’t make it true.

  12. Then you certainly would not mind making only D.C. residents pay for it, right?

  13. Tax-wise, that is.

  14. Repeating it multiple times doesn’t make it true.


    Now it’s true!

  15. The Cult of the Presidency continues to baffle me.

    The Cult of the Presidency is political nostalgia for Pharoahism.

    It might be averted by letting children recapitulate in their play, and thus work through and out of their system, the consciousness of earlier historical epochs.

    The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen didn’t spring full-blown from the brow of Pleistocene Man, and neither can individuals’ recognition of civic equality be expected to arise without prior insightful schooling that recognizes the value of social strata where it is due, for example where, say, scientific knowledge earns authority, and not assign it where it’s not due, for instance to the Nanny State. Wise nannying in childhood might help people dissolve the appetite for it when they mature.

    Playing King and the like, hearing and enacting fairy tales, and digesting (and assimilating and excreting the defunct parts of) ancient myths celebrating hierarchy might help prepare citizens for post-feudal society, and sharpen the appetite for liberty.

  16. I think Northern Virginia and DC-area Maryland should pay for it, too.

  17. “Then you certainly would not mind making only D.C. residents pay for it, right?”

    Did you actually read what I said?

  18. My point, Mr. Rutherford, if that if it bothers you so that the Metro does not service DC residents in the way you like, perhaps you could support an initiative to put it under local control and financed by local taxes exclusively, which would empower DC residents to make the Metro work for them.

  19. And let’s not kid ourselves: The “bang for the buck” as it pertains to the Metro certainly DOES benefit DC residents more than non-residents, if for the only reason that I might use the Metro once a year when I visit, whereas you can use it everyday.

  20. Bill – awesome handle. like the Risky business and Ferris Bueller (email) all in one!

  21. “Name a major US city with a metro better than DC”

    new york city. you can actually ride it at night!

    whether or not you’d want to, or whether you’d rather ride it over the members of the mta board for being dickfucks is another question entirely.

  22. Thought you guys might want some facts about the DC Metro and how it’s really paid for, as opposed to just ranting:

    (From Wikipedia) While fares and advertising provide some revenue for Metro, significant funding is contributed by each jurisdiction that it serves, as well as by the states of Maryland and Virginia. Fares and other revenue fund 57.6% of daily operations while state and local governments fund the remaining 42.4%.

    (From Wikipedia) During the 1960s…the Beltway received full funding; monies for the ambitious Inner Loop Freeway system were partially reallocated toward construction of the Metro system.

  23. Thelonious Nick, in your research did you catch this?


    October, 2008

    WASHINGTON – It could be a critical day for Metro as senators are expected to pass a dedicated funding bill for the transit system, which would deliver $1.5 billion in federal funds.

    The bill has already cleared the House.

    “The Metro is America’s subway, and I think funding is on the way,” Rep. Tom Davis (R – Va.) said Wednesday. Statistics show that nearly 40 percent of rush hour riders on the Metro system are federal employees.

    If the bill passes, D.C., Maryland and Virginia must match the $1.5 billion.

    D.C. and Maryland have already found a way to do that.

    On WTOP’s Ask the Governor Program Tuesday, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine said he would be able to provide the money, because the governor has the power to match any federal dollars that are being offered to the state.

    “The top priority is spend our state’s transportation dollars on anything where there’s a federal match,” Kaine said. “So as soon as this thing passes, the Metro funding jumps to the top priority.”

    Kaine did say that could take transportation dollars away from other state-funded transportation projects.

    Metro General Manager John Catoe recently announced that Metro needs $11.3 billion between 2010 and 2020 to maintain and expand the transit system, while keeping it safe and reliable.

    He noted that Metro is the second busiest and highest rated transit system in the U.S.

  24. That doesn’t include this $900 million.

    DC METRO Silver Line (from Wikipedia)

    “The Silver Line project would also improve public access to the Udvar-Hazy Center, an annex of National Air and Space Museum located near Dulles Airport; Virginia Regional Transit currently runs a shuttle bus from the airport to Udvar-Hazy. The first phase of the project is funded 43% by $900 million of federal funding, 28% by a special tax district on commercial property proximate to the Silver Line route, and 28% by a $0.50 toll increase on the Dulles Toll Road. Funding for the second phase of the project will be shared by Loudoun County, Fairfax County, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.”

  25. Construction of the DC METRO required billions ($8.8 B to date) of federal money . . .

    “Since the initial groundbreaking ceremonies in December 1969, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) metrorail system has become one of the largest and most efficient systems in the country.

    The original federal funding for construction of the Metrorail system was provided Congress under the authority of the National Capital Transportation Act of 1969 (Public Law 91-143). This Act was subsequently amended on January 3, 1980 by Public Law 96-184, “The National Capital Transportation Amendment of 1979” (also known as the Stark-Harris Act) which authorized additional funding ($1.7 billion). The funds available under the Stark-Harris Act permitted the completion of 89.5 miles of the Metrorail system as provided under the terms of a Full Funding Grant Agreement executed with WMATA in July 1986. On November 15, 1990 by Public Law 101-551, “The National Capital Transportation Amendments of 1990” which authorized funding of an additional $1.3 billion in federal funds to finance construction of the remaining 13.5 miles of the 103-mile system. Full funding grant agreements were executed to complete the final 13.5 miles.

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