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Penalty for Paying Cash for Transit Fare Fails the Equity Test

A proposal to charge riders who pay fare in cash an extra 25 cents faces criticism.
November 20, 2019, 5am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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D.C. Metro System
Hugo Mauricio Lopez V

Ron Thompson writes:

In an effort to speed up bus trips, WMATA has proposed a $0.25 fee for actions which slow down boarding, including paying with cash and reloading SmarTrip cards onboard. While speeding up bus service would be a boon for all riders, this proposal shifts the responsibility for dealing with a systemic issue onto individual clients—the poorest ones.

As implied by the end of that passage, Thompson suggests that the transit agency has many responsibilities in reducing dwell time, as do external factors like single-occupancy drivers. "Yet rather than focusing on the root causes of the issue, the agency is passing the buck to its most vulnerable—and most faithful—riders," according to Thompson.

Research noted in the article finds that many low-income people are also underbanked, and a penalty for cash payment would reinforce the perception that some riders matter more than others, according to Thompson.  

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Published on Friday, November 15, 2019 in Greater Greater Washington
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