“new policy will permit riders who enter a station, particularly during a service disruption, to exit the same station within 15 minutes without being charged”

by Prince Of Petworth March 10, 2016 at 12:00 pm 30 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user nevermindtheend


“Metro GM/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld’s FY17 budget, which was approved today by the WMATA Board’s Finance Committee, will give customers something they have long requested: the ability to exit the same station they entered without being charged.

Responding to recommendations of the Riders’ Advisory Council and regular feedback from Metrorail customers, the new policy will permit riders who enter a station, particularly during a service disruption, to exit the same station within 15 minutes without being charged the base rail fare of $2.15 in the peak and $1.75 in the off-peak. The grace period program will begin July 1.

“This is all about refocusing on our customers and recognizing that everything we do should be focused on safety and service reliability,” said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “I am pleased that the Board supported this policy, which is directly responsive to customer feedback.”

  • prgkmr

    Incredible that wasn’t already policy. Last week I got charged after offboarding a disabled train at friendship heights and exiting to catch a bus that never came and returning back to the station once service resumed. Basically I paid an extra $3 for metro to waste 40 minutes of my time….

  • ah

    Yes – this should have been the policy for years. Better late than never I suppose. That said, why is the window only 15 minutes? Are they really worried about a large number of riders getting on metro and staying there for an hour or two? You still have to exit, using your card, so cheating the system would require you jump the turnstile at your exit station and then jump it again to get back in at your entrance station. Or you have two farecards and nest trips somehow. An hour limit should suffice to eliminate this kind of problem, as would the ability to see if a given smarttrip user is abusing this privilege somehow.

    • CapHill23

      I’m guessing they are setting a short time limit to prevent the homeless or people in general from loitering on the platform.

      • jdre

        I think you’re right regarding their intent. I’d rebut, to them, that an inability to notice that there’s been a person hanging around the platform (or riding the same train) for half the day is itself another problem. So that issue should really be addressed another way.

    • Two farecards. You could use one every time at your home station and one every time at your work station, and the system would just see in and out of the same station. Agree, though, that if they can see how far apart the trips are I’m not sure how many people have regular there-and-back trips between the same two points that are completed in less than an hour.

      • pacerguy00

        Except when you arrive at your work, you won’t be able to get out using a new fare card. You’d have to jump the turnstile at least once to make this work.

        • Anonymous

          Or just swipe both cards when you enter the first location. You’ll have to pay to get out at the other end, but after that you’re good to go.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I agree that a longer window would be nice, but I’ll take it. This probably covers more than 90% of all bail-outs, though, as volume-wise, the vast majority likely happen within the first 2-3 minutes during rush hour when people enter the station and realize fairly immediately that it was a mistake to do so.

  • CPT_Doom

    This is the first positive, concrete development to come from the new GM. I am cautiously allowing myself to almost be optimistic he might actually address the system’s ongoing problems.

  • Blithe

    This is great, but with extreme, unpredictable weekend delays, I think that the grace period should be longer — at least as long as the longest expected interval between trains. I also think that the information boards should not be used unless they can display accurate information. Last week I watched a display switch from “3minutes” to “8 minutes” to “No Passengers” , and several other messages during the half hour that I waited for a train. By the time it was clear to me that even “12 minutes” wasn’t happening, it was too late for me to choose other options. I would have appreciated a message that said ” due to track work, we really don’t know – so give it 30 minutes, at least”.
    tldr: I appreciate the effort, but the grace period should equal the longest anticipated wait between trains — as long as Metro is unable to give accurate wait-times before customers go through the fare gates.

    • sproc

      The PID data is often useless on weekends or other times there are long headways, and it also feeds WMATA’s website, so that not helpful either. I’ve recently discovered that dcmetrohero(dot)com is vastly more informative in that has near real time train locations.

      • Blithe

        Thanks for posting this! If this works well on weekends, it will make my travel plans a lot less stressful!

    • Hill Denizen

      Samesies. This weekend the blue/orange kept changing the wait times from as low as 4 minutes up to 12 minutes and going blank, even though there was no issue other than track maintenance. This is kind of related to my biggest metro gripe of late, how unintelligible metro announcements, when they are made, are. I was stuck on a train for twenty minutes at Capitol South and the announcer went on once but he was impossible to understand. We were there so long, he could have gone to each car and personally told everyone what the issue was. Or the station manager could have come down and made an announcement. I was switching at L’Enfant and if I had known there was an issue, I would have just walked (in fact we moved so slow once we got going that I got off at Federal Center and just walked to L’Enfant cuz I had no idea if it was going to be another 20 minutes before we made it there). This really shouldn’t be so hard.

  • phl2dc

    I can’t believe that this is just now becoming a policy. I also agree that 15 minutes is too little time — thinking about when trains run every 20 minutes (weekend track work). If you’ve been waiting for over 15 minutes and something happens, preventing your station from being serviced, what happens?

    • HaileUnlikely

      What happens? Same as before – you pay for the trip that you didn’t take, which blows, of course. However, if anything, this might incentivize people to bail sooner. After standing on the platform for 15 minutes, there can be an irrationally strong urge to stick it out, thinking, “but I’ve already waited sooo long, do I really want to bail now?” Yes, bail now, while you can still get your money back.

  • textdoc

    About time they implemented something like this!
    I agree with others that 20 minutes is too short a grace period — 30-40 minutes would be better.

    • jdre

      I’ll tally another massive “agree this is awesome that it’s finally getting done” comment.

      And I do also agree (though I guess 15 minutes is worlds better than the stupid tax on deciding to leave because Metro is effed with the former policy) – as long as you leave the same station you entered, what difference would the time period matter?

      I suppose some folks might ride “all day” and leave at the same station (for heat or a/c), but I think that seems like it would be rare, and could have other ways to mitigate that.

  • jumpingjack

    This is SO long overdue. Even more so when you consider that the “virtual tunnel” between Farragut North and Farragut West has been in place since 2011. And the Farragut virtual tunnel seems less necessary and more complex than this new policy.
    Why will this new policy not be in effect until July? It doesn’t seem that complicated to enact.

    • duh

      reprogramming hundreds of machines probably has something to do with it.

  • General Grant Circle

    I cant embed video but…this is my response:

  • T

    This is great. I think the statement is worded sort of strangely, though.

    “…the new policy will permit riders who enter a station, particularly during a service disruption, to exit the same station within 15 minutes without being charged…”

    I think I’m just being silly about grammar here, and assume the policy applies to riders during disruptions and at all other times, but the “particularly” is odd. Will it be somehow even more free of charge to exit during a disruption?

    • anon

      I feel the same way as you! I came down to make the same comment. I don’t get the “particularly” either. Ugh. So is it or is it not free if it’s not during a service interruption? Obnoxious WMATA…

      • west_egg

        It’s awkwardly worded, but I think the point is that they expect it’ll be most useful during service disruptions. It’ll be available at all times, though.

    • Blithe

      I read this as METRO acknowledging that the current policy: charging people who leave and exit from the same station, is “particularly” onerous for passengers who are affected by service disruptions — since many leave BECAUSE of the service disruptions. It’s awkwardly worded, but I appreciate the effort.

  • anon

    whenever i’ve been in a situation like this, i’ve just asked the WMATA employee siting in those booths between the turnstiles if i can just use the gate to get out so i wouldn’t have to pay for a trip i didn’t take and they almost always let me. worth a shot asking imo

    • west_egg

      Doesn’t that screw up your SmarTrip, though? If you exit without tapping it’ll usually demand that you SEE STATION MANAGER the next time you try to enter a station.

      • jumpingjack

        Hypothetically it could work if you went to the station manager the next time you entered, s/he could wipe out your previous entrance. But whenever I’ve tried that the station manager doesn’t pay attention to what I’m asking and just grabs my card and taps me as exiting so I can enter again, which can end up costing me more than if I’d just tapped out to exit the first time.

  • tke98

    I read this as an option available sometimes, particularly when there is a service disruption.

    I don’t know any other transit system that gives you a grace period. But if others do, please feel free to share. So I for one do not think this should be in place during all operating hours. What about the people who realize they left something at home? Or someone texts or calls and offers a ride? Or they see a bus upstairs coming quicker, without any service disruption going on? Or they decide after entering and knowing there’s a 15+ minute wait for the next train that it’s nice so they’d rather walk?

    They should be able to just change their mind willy-nilly? These are examples of the many times I paid a fare and left not due to an issue with metro.


    • RL

      “They should be able to just change their mind willy-nilly?”
      You’re kidding, right? Please tell me you’re kidding. I don’t see how it’s my business or anyone else’s why someone would enter a station but decide to leave *without actually using the service* he or she currently would be charged for.


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