Metro riders on losing end of Rush Plus still face higher fares

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Local,DC,Maryland,Virginia,Transportation,Kytja Weir

Linda Bailey won't be seeing any "plus" in her commutes when Metro rolls out its Rush Plus service next month.

The legal secretary, who commutes on the Blue Line from the Franconia-Springfield station to her job near Farragut West, will be waiting up to 12 minutes for trains even during the peak period, when trains typically come every three to four minutes.

Bailey is among an estimated 16,000 riders who won't be benefiting from the Rush Plus service change, which is rerouting some Blue Line trains across the Yellow Line bridge. Some Orange, Green and Yellow line riders will be seeing more trains during the morning and evening rush periods because of the switch, but Metro has said about 6 percent of riders will see longer waits.

But what really irks Bailey is the cost of her new, slower service. "I'm going to be charged for rush-hour service while I am no longer receiving it," she said.

Bailey currently pays $5.20 each way using a SmarTrip card if she travels during the 90-minute peak-of-the-peak windows. She won't get a break on the fare after the service change on June 18.

And after July 1, when fare hikes take effect, her new fare will be $5.40, even with the agency scrapping the peak-of-the-peak surcharge, according to Metro's fare calculators.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said Franconia-Springfield will still be served by the same number of trains, but he acknowledges riders such as Bailey won't be getting the same kind of service they do now.

The agency is trying to offset the worsened service for those riders in two ways, he said. The agency will extend the 9E and 10E bus routes all the way to Rosslyn so some riders could take an express bus there. That doesn't help riders such as Bailey, though.

Metro also will be posting the scheduled times that Blue Line trains are slated to leave each station so that riders can adjust their timing. The trains will be staggered, Stessel said, with every third Blue Line train shifting into a Yellow Line train, so a rider can arrive at the station in time for the first rush-service train, then have a backup, before needing to wait 12 minutes for the next one.

Stessel notes the change benefits 10 riders for every one rider it inconveniences.

"It's a greater-good equation in that regard, but more important, it's a necessary step to prepare for Silver Line service," he said.

Metro already has the maximum number of trains running through the tunnel between Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom. When the Silver Line opens, the agency needs to have slots available to run trains into the District through the tunnel.

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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