Sun. Oct 17th, 2021

A new bill in the DC Council could give Washington, DC residents $ 100 a month for public transportation costs.

Councilman Charles Allen (D Section 6) reintroduced his Metro For DC legislation this month, outlining a program that would create a fund to improve bus service and give district residents a $ 100 balance on a SmarTrip card each month. These funds could be used to run on Metrorail, DC Circulator and Metrobus.

Sami Powderly / The Hoya | Section 6 councilman Charles Allen reintroduced the subway to DC bill, which would give district residents $ 100 on their SmarTrip card per month.

The plans outlined in the bill would make the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) more reliable, accessible and affordable in the district, which in turn would increase the number of people using public transportation in the long run, according to the Metro For DC information site.

“It focuses on transit capital by improving the bus service first in communities that have the longest commutes, often pay more per trip and mostly live in low-income neighborhoods,” the site reads. “But the goal of Metro For DC is not just about growing equestrianism – it’s also about making our transit system more accessible to every DC resident.”

Recent policy changes, as well as the District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) decision to reintroduce charging to run on the circulator, pose a financial barrier to access to WMATA services, especially for low – income people.

Allen originally introduced the bill in March 2020; However, the Council postponed it due to the need for urgent legislation on the COVID-19 pandemic. Following Allen’s first announcement that he would reintroduce Metro For DC, 10 out of 13 board members, including Ward 2 board member Brooke Pinto (LAW ’17), announced their co-sponsorship.

According to Pinto, the Metro For DC bill would give DC residents access to Metro services, regardless of rising costs or ability to pay.

“All residents will have reliable access to transportation to work and around the city to visit, shop and take care of their needs,” Pinto wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Costs in our city are rising, and supporting the transportation needs of our residents is a major priority for the city.”

According to the Metro For DC information site, the DC government will only pay WMATA when the services are actually used, so WMATA is still an incentive to improve and maintain services, so potential riders will spend the $ 100 allocated to them for public transportation.

“If anything, it gives WMATA a great opportunity to earn new riders who suddenly have $ 100 to spend on public transportation services,” the site reads. “It’s a market-based approach that allows WMATA and other agencies to serve these riders.”

Subway accessibility has also been an issue for Georgetown University students. The Electoral Commission of the Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) announced on May 1 that 84% of voters who participated in a referendum were in favor of implementing the Metro U-Pass program, which would give students an unlimited number of discounted rides. Metrobus and Metrorail services. The university is considering adopting the program.

The Metro For DC bill would lead to both economic and environmental benefits for the district, according to Pinto.

“Increased ridership means there will be fewer cars on the road and DC will move closer to its sustainability goals — especially as we move to electrify our bus fleet and use more energy-friendly train carriages,” Pinto wrote. “Increasing the number of riders can also lead to more jobs at WMATA and around the city as economic activity picks up.”

Pinto said that although there is no specific timeline regarding the future of the Metro For DC bill, it is important to continue to support public transportation options.

“Long-term community buy-in is required to keep our transit system up and running efficiently and effectively, and the Metro for DC program will help us get there,” Pinto wrote.

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