WASHINGTON - Metro's board voted Thursday to move forward with a proposal that could charge riders peak fares, even during off-peak times, for special large events such as protests, inaugurations and similar-sized gatherings.
The board will hold a public hearing on the proposed special events fare increase in October and likely will make a final decision in December.
Metro said large-scale regional events like the March for Our Lives or the Women's March require more than double the resources of normal rush-hour service. Requiring riders to pay peak fares for those events would help Metro recover some of the extra cost, according to a spokesman.
There would be specific criteria for the kind of events for which Metro would impose the increases, but the specifics have not been planned by the transit system. It would only apply to trains and not impact bus fares.
The peak price increase the cost of a short trip from a minimum of $2 to $2.25 and longer trips from $3.85 to $6.
Some riders said they think it's fair to pay for rush-hour service for special events, but others said the increases would discourage people from taking Metro.
"They’re trying to keep congestion off the streets and if you’re going to raise the prices, you’re going to see more people taking Ubers or not using the Metro," said rider Steven Goodall.
"[People] might not be able to use [Metro] that weekend because of the high fares," said rider Alexis Glasgow.
Jack Evans, the chairman of the Metro board, supports the proposal saying it would impact mainly people coming into the region from out of town for large events.
"A lot of people coming into the city and the region for these big events are not from here and they don’t know how much Metro costs or doesn’t cost or really don’t care," he said. "They just want to get around. So they would be willing to pay whatever it takes and it’s still cheaper than Uber, Lyft or taxicabs or anything else like that."
Evans also points out that Maryland and Virginia often decline to pay their share for special events, which puts the burden on Metro and the District to support the extra cost of large-scale events.