Friday, February 1, 2008

Lower Metro Fares? Completely Unfair and Unnecessary

This week, the Hatchet reported that the GW Student Association, in cooperation with 11 other DC-area colleges and universities, would be asking Metro to give college students discounted fares on Metro. Okay really? According to the Hatchet article, 145,000 college students ride Metro, and could benefit from the discounted student rates. Great, that's 145,000 students who can now pay a discounted rate to go to the movies or the MCI Center.
"(Our 11 schools) represent over 145,000 full time and part-time collegiate students who have made a conscious decision to study in the DC metropolitan area," the letter said. "As the representatives of those who reside in and pay taxes in the District, we encourage WMATA to support a student (Metro) discount."
But is it necessary? And furthermore, who is going to cover the cost for all these college kids to ride Metro at a discounted rate?

First, let's consider to necessity of discounted Metro fare. There are only two reason why people ride Metro - to get to work, or to get to where ever they are going to have fun. If students are riding Metro to get to work or an internship, then let's give students the same benefits that the average DC worker gets - a pre-tax deduction from your paycheck that can be used to pay Metro fare. GW could give this to its hundreds of student employees. Most internships in this city are either paid or for credit; the students receiving paychecks can work with their internship's HR office to get Metro deductions, and those receiving credit can pay regular fare (just because you chose to go off campus for class credit doesn't mean I should subsidize your ride). And if you're just riding Metro to go out and have a good time, the $1.65 is nothing compared to what your probably going to pay anyway.

Speaking of subsidizing rides, who is going to pay for all these discounted Metro fares? Metro fares were just increased to $1.65 for rush hour fares, meaning that the hard-working citizens of DC now pay, on average, almost $70 a month just to go to and from work. According to Metro, these fare increases were necessary in order to fix some of Metro's biggest problems, like elevator outages and track maintenance. If 145,000 riders were to suddenly pay a discounted rate, then the rest of Metro riders will inevitably see their fares go up in order to cover the discounted cost.

Also, the SA should realize that no one is forced to ride Metro. GW is so centrally located that students can walk (or ride the bus and take advantage of the lower fares that all DC residents get). DC was voted the most walkable region.

Overall, reduced Metro fare is a great initiative for the Student Association to campaign on, but it's unfair to DC residents. Anyone who can afford to go to school at GW or American or Georgetown or Catholic and chooses to attend those universities can also afford to pay full Metro fare.

1 comment:

Ex Intern said...

I'd like to see the source of the following data: "Most internships in this city are either paid or for credit". Needless to say, I doubt its accuracy.

Also, it's mixing two things that are very different. While one may want to say that students receive something in both cases, when an internship is "paid" in credits, it means that the student is paying money to work.