Proposal to give DC residents $100 monthly Metro fare clears first hurdle

A proposal that would give D.C. residents $100 a month to ride Metro is getting closer to becoming reality.

On Monday, the bill passed D.C. Council's Committee on Transportation and the Environment.

Ward 6 Council Member Charles Allen first introduced the bill before the pandemic. The plan would put $100 a month on enrolled Smartcards and people would use the funds or lose them each month.

"For someone who is on the bus already and is struggling to meet the bills and make their monthly budget work, this is going to have a transformative effect," Allen said. "For the people we're trying to recruit back onto WMATA, this is a big incentive to help get people back onto WMATA. And then there's another piece of this that's important. We're not just giving WMATA a big check. WMATA only gets this fare money if people use WMATA.

The cost of the plan would be in the tens of millions, although the exact price tag is tough to pin down being it would depend on how many people used the free fare money. Allen said his bill would also invest millions of dollars to make Metro better and more reliable.

"If you multiply that out over the next four to five fiscal years it, of course, starts to get up to several hundred million dollars," Allen said. "But it's an investment we need to make. It's an investment in our people, it's an investment in WMATA."

He said the city won't raise taxes to do this, and the plan would utilize surplus tax revenue.

Allen said the proposal could go to a vote before the full council as soon as October.

He said implementing the plan would be contingent on the city having adequate revenue to cover the cost. Allen said the council will get its next revenue update in December and the earliest the proposal could take effect would be in 2023.

On Sunday, FOX 5 spoke to Metro riders who loved the idea.

"I think it'd really inspire people to use the bus more in public transport maybe reduce traffic and carbon emissions," said Casey Macot.

Some wondered how the idea would be funded and questioned the fact that low-income residents and multi-millionaires alike would receive this benefit.

"It's a lot of money. $100 to every DC resident is, like, big spending," said Max Kaminski.