Starting today, people who swipe into Metro stations but exit before boarding a train within 15 minutes will no longer be charged a fare. The grace period is being introduced in response to demands from customers, who long complained that Metro’s charging $1.75—$2.15 during rush hours—to exit from the same station they entered was unfair, especially when the rail system suffers from frequent and prolonged breakdowns.
The grace period was included in a March report about customer service from Metro’s general manager Paul Wiedefeld, who had also mentioned it as a possible policy change when he took over the transit agency in late 2015. In a press release Friday, Wiedefeld compared bailing on Metro to jumping out of line before ordering at a café.
“If I’m in line at the coffee shop and I decide I want to leave, I don’t expect to be charged,” he said.
Wiedefeld’s March report stated that the rate at which Metro customers entered the system but swiped out before getting on a train climbed 300 percent in just the last two years, a trend accompanied by increased calls for a grace period. So-called “entry-exit” charges accounted for $2 million of Metro’s annual revenue; the agency’s draft budget proposed offsetting the loss of these fares by cutting 20 vacant or “non-safety-related” positions.