>Metro profits on Smartrip sales

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Metro riders have become accustomed to paying $5 for a Smartrip card, and Metro has long maintained that they are passing on the cost of a card to the riders.  However, this exchange from this past week’s Customer Service Operations and Safety Committee meeting seems to contradict that assertion, and imply that WMATA is actually turning a profit on it’s electronic fare card:

At 2:02:22 of the audio file, Jim Graham, Chair:  “I think the other point that was raised by Mr. Zimmerman [and others] is the question of whether or not we should under any circumstance be selling Smartrip cards for more than our cost.  I’d like to request for our next meeting a fiscal impact analysis of this so we could see what would be the fiscal impact if we sold these Smartrip cards at our cost, also include a fiscal impact if we gave them away.”

Catoe: “Would you like that for our Board meeting next instead of at the committee meeting?”

Why on earth has WMATA been selling Smartrip cards above their cost, especially when there is an issue of penetration into the low-income bus market?

I guess we’ll find out next Board meeting (Thursday, 11/20) how much above cost Metro has been charging.  Of course, if Metro reads Mr. Graham’s request super-narrowly, all they will get is the budget impact of eliminating Smartrip card profits, rather than any comprehensive look into how much Metro makes on each card or how many are sold.

Crossposted at Greater Greater Washington

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About perkinsms

I'm an engineer and father interested in transit, parking and economics.
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