>DC’s University Students Working on Discount

>I picked up this item from a feed.  Looks like Georgetown and other university students in the area have been lobbying for some sort of discounted Metro fare scheme.

The discount would likely be funded by the member university, either through a student activities fee or with a direct payment to WMATA.  From the article:

“Metro has informed us that they must sell their farecards at face-value, so a campus could put part of the cost in their student activities fee, and then the school can give that money to WMATA. Or another option would be for the schools to just pay WMATA,” she said, adding that this is how D.C. Public Schools provide for the K-12 Metro discount.

My opinion is that WMATA should look into some sort of Ecopass program, where the university agrees to pay some large but discounted fee per student, and then all students get unlimited use.  It has the potential to be beneficial for the universities, since the price is generally cheaper per student than actually buying everyone passes, and not every student is going to ride transit enough to cause much of a financial problem for WMATA.

It’s kind of like an insurance program, where the university is insuring its students against the risk of needing a lot of public transit.  Because not everyone ends up using public transit, the price paid per student is less.  The kind of discount I’m talking about is on the order of paying $50 per student per month for transit passes worth $200.  
Other cities have this program for businesses and students.  See Santa Clara County’s VTA Ecopass program.  The example I priced out was for a business of 1000 employees in downtown San Jose.  The business would pay $90,000 to VTA, or $90 per employee, and in exchange all employees would receive an unlimited VTA ride pass worth over $1300.  VTA doesn’t expect more than 7% of employees to ride transit, so they end up recouping their costs.  For Washington, DC, I think the expected transit use would be higher, so the discount would not be as steep.
The benefit to the University may be reduced parking pressure, higher student quality of life, etc.  The benefit to WMATA might be a predictable revenue source, higher ridership, and getting an additional population familiar with the transit system.

About perkinsms

I'm an engineer and father interested in transit, parking and economics.
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3 Responses to >DC’s University Students Working on Discount

  1. Mark says:

    >How would you prevent Joe Student from selling his super-valuable unlimited pass to someone else?

  2. Michael says:

    >It’s already in the works for the university to pay WMATA for unprinted Smartrip cards, then for the university to print the Student ID onto the Smartrip card. I doubt a student would be willing to sell their student ID, which also contains their meal plan and student credit account.

  3. Mark says:

    >Okay, that seems reasonable.Of course, if you can do it that way, you’d think the metro folks could just charge less for the trip if it’s take with the special student ID card…

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