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About 34% of Metrobus riders are not paying for their rides, new report shows

The percentage of unpaid rides has doubled since the pandemic's onset.

WASHINGTON — When you ride the Metrobus in D.C., there's a good chance the person sitting next to you on the bus has not paid for their trip.

A new report released Monday by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) found that many Metrobus riders are not paying the fare. According to the report, about one out of every three Metrobus rides go unpaid. That's about 34% of rides in total.

That percentage is double what it was before the pandemic began, WMATA said. As a result, Metro has reportedly lost millions of dollars in unpaid revenue from a rise in unpaid trips. The combined revenue loss attributed to fare evasion from Metrobus and Metrorail in the first half of the 2022 fiscal year is estimated to be about $10 million, according to the report.

WMATA points out that fare evasion presents a complicated challenge when it comes to enforcement of their rules. In the report WMATA highlights two initiatives underway to address the problem.

Metro For DC Bill

DC Councilmember Charles Allen re-introduced the Metro For DC bill late last year. The bill would create a recurring $100 balance to D.C. residents' SmarTrip cards every month, and makes a $10 million annual investment in improving bus service and infrastructure in the District. A public hearing on this bill is set for February 23

Low Income Fare Pilot

WMATA says different levels of transit discounts are currently being piloted to better understand how these discounts impact mobility and well-being. About 4,000 people will take place in the 9-month pilot program. Delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, results of the pilot program are expected in the spring of 2023.

Additional details will be presented at a Metro board meeting on Thursday, February 10.

RELATED: Metro holds first public hearings for Fiscal Year 2023 budget

RELATED: Metrobus returns to full-service Monday

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