News & Politics

Metro Adds 15-Minute Grace Period for Exiting Stations Before Boarding

Photograph by Flickr user Kurt Rashke.

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.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.