One reasonable response to my post on the potential for fare increases is that those increases should be focused on two-zone commuters. There certainly is a logical case: by traveling farther, two-zone riders both save more money (affecting their willingness to pay) and (in general) cost more money for Metro to service. Furthermore, it seems nonsensical to charge close to $3.00 for a short hop to the grocery store. Back when the fare was $1.50/$2.00, there was a proportionally large premium to travel two zones; with $2.50/$3.00 on the immediate horizon, that’s eroded substantially.
However, the problem is that a two-zone increase just doesn’t raise that much revenue. Linda Thielke of KCDOT was kind enough to provide these numbers, after the jump:
Estimated Fall 2009 average weekday boardings in these categories. These figures include all types of riders, including people who pay youth and senior fares.
One-zone peak – 116,700
One-zone off-peak – 126,700
Two-zone peak – 56,600
Two-zone off-peak – 46,500
Ride Free Area peak -20,500
Ride Free Area off-peak – 14,500
As you can see, two-zone peak trips make up only about 15% of the total, meaning a 25-cent increase would yield only about $2m annually. Even introducing a different two-zone off-peak fare gets you about $3m per quarter increase.
Although two-zone increases won’t fix the budget gap, they could fund other sensible fare reforms, such as a small ORCA discount, as is done in other cities. Knocking 5 or 10 cents off every fare that uses an ORCA would quickly make a card purchase pay for itself, and help spread it in groups where its use just isn’t common at all.