Nov 7, 2022 - News

How Metro's $2 fares have fared

A SmartTrip Metro card.

A SmartTrip Metro card. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

Metro is slowly attracting riders back, and its $2 weekend rail fares are playing a role in that recovery.

Why it matters: The agency has a lot of work to do to win over riders following years of remote work and scaled-back social calendars.

State of play: Metro rolled out $2 one-way weekend fares in Sept. 2021. 

An Axios analysis of WMATA data found that since they were implemented, Metrorail has recouped 62% of the pre-pandemic weekend ridership it saw between 2018 and 2019.

Yes, but: There are a few factors besides the price drop that could be contributing to weekend ridership’s rebound. 

  • Historically, Metro has largely been used by commuters during the week — fewer weekend riders means a smaller pool of people to win back now. That could be speeding up the rebound, D.C. Policy Center executive director Yesim Sayin Taylor tells Axios.
  • While the Delta variant was circulating in the months following the change to $2 weekend fares, the FDA approved vaccines for kids 5-11 in late October, which could have also contributed to the increase in riders. 

Of note: Metro this summer dropped the price of weeknight fares to also $2 — a signal that the agency sees $2 fares as a fruitful tool to bring more riders back during times when commuters aren’t as plentiful.  

What’s next: Metro riders have gotten quite a few pieces of good news over the last few weeks – the Silver Line extension will open on Nov. 15; more 7000-series trains are returning to the tracks, which should decrease wait times; and the stations south of DCA reopened on Sunday.

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