WILL METRO FARE INCREASES LEAD TO MORE COMMUTERS CHOOSING TO DRIVE?
Commuters Will Still Come Out Ahead Taking Public Transit, Says AAA
WASHINGTON, D. C. (Thursday, December 5, 2013) – A proposed increase in Metro fares could have some commuters questioning whether riding Metro bus and rail continues to be more economical than driving. Despite the planned hike, some commuters will still come out ahead by continuing to ride Metro, calculates AAA Mid-Atlantic.
This morning, Metro General Manager Richard Sarles will present a Fiscal Year 2015 budget that will include increases to bus and rail fares and to parking fees. The budget proposal calls for an increase to Metro bus fares by 15 cents, Metrorail by 10 cents and parking fees by 25 cents. The standard bus fee would be $1.75 whether using a SmarTrip card or paying by cash. Rail fees would increase by three percent on average with a maximum increase of 15 percent, according to WMATA .
Each day, that's a minimum 20 cent increase for your round-trip, plus another 25 cent increase to park. If your employer pays for your parking space in downtown Washington, you will find it cheaper to drive than to take Metro, in some, but not in all cases, AAA Mid-Atlantic calculates.
“Even with a three percent average increase, area commuters will still save by using public transit after doing the math,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “After adding up the costs of driving and parking, commuters will often find that public transit is a more economical way to get to work and stick with Metro.”
Comparing The Commuting Costs – Driving vs. Riding Metro
Driving (Plus Parking)
Riding Metro (Plus Driving Costs to Parking Facility and Parking Facility Costs)
Alexandria (via Huntington) to
(420 miles per month)
Current cost per month: $321.82
After fare hike: $330.82
Greenbelt to Farragut North
(520 miles per month)
Current cost per month: $386.78
After fare hike: $395.78
Bowie (via New Carrollton) to Dupont Circle
(740 miles per month)
Current cost per month: $449.82
After fare hike: $458.82
*Using an average Metrorail increase of 10 cents and parking increase of 25 cents.
For example, commuters will find the cost of driving from Bowie to Dupont Circle (18.5 miles each way) would set you back $20.54 a day for driving costs, but if you add in an average of $13.50 for parking then your daily cost averages $34.04, the auto club says. In comparison, it is currently $22.49 with SmarTrip or $24.49 cash price to take Metro and to park. That's a deal-breaker for the average commuter, explains a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. A minimum 20 cent increase per day plus increased parking fees takes the daily metro rate to $22.94 via SmarTrip or $24.94 cash price.
The American Public Transportation Association recently noted that taking public transit versus driving in the Washington metro area saves commuters an average of $836 per month or $10,031 per year. The averageunreserved monthly parking rate in the downtown Washington, D.C. is $270, according to Colliers International 2012 Parking Rate Survey, which is a $30 increase over 2012. The 2013 U.S. national average is $164.80, which is almost $10 higher than 2012.
Commuters must calculate the number of commute days per month, explains AAA Mid-Atlantic, and then add in the cost of parking and the average vehicle cost per mile (which includes the cost of gas, insurance, depreciation and maintenance). Similarly, mass transit riders must also calculate the daily fare, the cost of parking (for those who drive to a Metro lot or garage), and the cost of driving to the Metro station.
With an increase of 15 cents per ride, bus riders would see a monthly increase of $6. The cost to commute 20 work days per month is currently $64 and would rise to $70 with the proposed increase.
The average yearly costs of owning and operating a sedan in the United States rose to $9,122, according to AAA’s 2013 Your Driving Costs guide. This amounts to 60.8 cents per mile based on 15,000 miles of annual driving.
Based upon the General Services Administration estimation of the cost of driving of 55.5 cents per mile, the Metro Rider Savings Calculator shows the gap in the cost of taking metro or driving. For example, it shows the monthly cost of driving to work and back from Huntington to McPherson Square is $503.10 compared to $321.82 for the monthly cost of riding the Metro to that destination (that assumption includes the miles driven each way to Metro and the average vehicle costs per mile, and the cost of parking at the departure station of $4.75). The proposed minimum three percent increase will take the SmarTrip monthly total to $330.82.
For two years in a row, Washington, D.C. has held the title of “most congested city” according to the 2012 Urban Mobility Report. Washington metro area motorists waste an average of 67 hours in traffic and an average of $1,398 per year in congestion-related costs.
Further complicating the matter is the recent announcement that the federal transitbenefit for 2014 will drop from $245 to $130. Forty percent of the peak time commuters are federal workers, according to Metro.
“The federal government contributes roughly 56 percent of the capital costs. Fares and other revenue currently fund 55.3 percent of the daily operations, while state and local governments fund the remaining 44.7 percent,” according to WMATA.On average, 725,770 passengers boarded Metrorail in 2013 and 744,918 passengers boarded Metrorail in 2012, reportedWMATA. In FY 2012, an average of 438,352 passengers rode Metrobus during a typical weekday. The total includes 235,736 in Washington, D.C., 127,818 passengers in Maryland and 74,798 in Virginia.
AAA Mid-Atlantic advocates on behalf of its nearly four million members in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. It provides a wide range of personal insurance, travel, financial and automotive services through its 50-plus retail branches, regional operations centers, and the Internet. For more information, please visit our web site at www.AAA.com .
John B. Townsend II or Lon Anderson
Phone: (202) 481-6820 ext. 62100
Contact: Jeanette Tejeda de Gomez