One would think what with computers ‘n shit, U.S. transit systems would have moved to this system long ago (boldface mine):
In a move designed to offer riders a new way to pay their fares as well as cultivate good will, the Metro board of directors on Thursday voted to create a test program for a new monthly rail pass…
The new monthly rail pass would let commuters pay in advance at their own price point, unlike the current, one-size-fits-all and little used monthly pass of $237.
For instance, if your roundtrip commute is less than the maximum $11.80 for the longest trip, you would be able to choose your own personalized price point. The pass would cost the price of 18 roundtrips per month, meaning riders would get a couple free rush hour commutes.
Thus, if your roundtrip cost is $6.50, the monthly pass would cost $117. Non-peak fares could be included, similar to the cost structure of Metro’s 7-day short-trip rail pass that offers unlimited rides during middays, nights, and weekends. The details still have to be worked out next month, and the pilot program is expected to last three to six months.
This is a great idea. In a break from tradition, D.C. residents get a better deal (at least those who commute ‘out’), since most ‘recreational’ trips will be equal or less price than one’s work commute–all of those trips will be free. But more importantly, it establishes Metro not just as a commuter option, but as a non-work transportation option. If you commute to Farragut North from Ballston to get to work, you can also go to the Smithsonian for free on the weekend–or head downtown in the evening for free. This creates a constituency for the Metro that doesn’t just view the system as an alternative to a driving commute.
Hopefully, the implementation doesn’t get fucked up and this actually works, because this is a really good idea.