If Congress fails to act, many public transit users will get less money to pay for bus and train fares come January 1. The drop will be from the current $230 to $125 for 2012. How might it affect Pike commuters?
Metro expects a nearly 3% drop is ridership if it happens. That will result in both more cars on the roads, and perversely, increased odds for a fare hike. That is, if Metro has less money coming into their fareboxes, they need to make up the money somewhere else (they are already promising fare hikes, independent of this impending problem).
Another behavioral change to save money is switching to the bus. Metro is unique in that is doesn’t have free transfers between bus and rail. (This is a vestige of history, as years ago the bus networks were forced upon an unwilling WMATA). This model is problematic, as it makes commutes more expensive for those who live in (the often cheaper) off-Metrorail neighborhoods like those off the Pike.
So for 16F and 16Y riders (the popular direct-to-DC bus services that operate at rush hour), expect more crowded buses if the transit benefits aren’t renewed by Congress. And even more cars on the road. Finally, all of us can count on a fare hike, perhaps a bigger one.