Quick math: When Metro loses, you lose


The SmarTrip card readers at Rosslyn have been down for the better part of the past two days. For at least the Tuesday p.m. rush and all day Wednesday, Metro employees were allowing SmarTrip users (just flash your card, or don’t, even) into the faregates for a free ride. Subsequently, I only paid one reduced fare each day when I normally pay one reduced and one rush hour fare daily.

Forest Glen did not make the cut. From Wikipedia.

Forest Glen did not make the cut. From Wikipedia.

The Rosslyn station sees about 17,000 boardings a day. Let’s say conservatively, for the sake of some napkin math, that 75 percent of the stations riders use SmarTrip cards (it seems the vast majority of weekday riders use them), or 12,750 passengers a day. Over 1.5 days of Metro fares, that means that over 19,000 boardings were affected by the SmarTrip outage, paying some sort of reduced fare. Subsequently, Metro likely missed out on at least $50,000.

This is only considering the plight of this one station — other stations could be missing out on funds each day too, not to mention riders scamming bus drivers each day and turnstile-hopping/tailgating behind a paying customer. During super busy periods of overcrowding, WMATA misses out on money too, waving passengers through during events like President Obama’s inauguration and during the Rally to Restore whatevertheheck feat. Comedy Central.

WMATA’s budget deficit is $89 million, so these little outages are drops in the bucket. But WMATA has a leaky roof, and we need to capture those drops, not let them evaporate.

No, things like falling concrete from a construction project overhead Farragut North on Wednesday might not be prevented, that seems to be related to street work above. But perhaps incidents like the recent escalator malfunctions could be stymied with increased funding.

Maybe not. But certainly WMATA needs every penny it can get. And the more funds the organization misses out on, the worse our riding experience gets.

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