As they say (sort of) in Monopoly games, “Take a ride on Metro and get paid $10”.
The average rider on the Washington, DC Metro is both in the top 15% for income and highly subsidized by a losing transportation business. (Only 13% of rail riders are low income.)
D.C. Metro’s budget of $3.1 billion a year services about 219 million rides. Those largely high income riders receive about $10 a ride in government subsidies. State and local governments pay some $1.8 billion, federal tax payers pay about $.5 billion.
The subsidies per ride and rider will only climb since ridership is decreasing and maintenance and operating costs are increasing. Add to that a $2.8 billion shortfall in Metro’s pension plan. Unlike private pension plans that by law must be funded every year, government and union plans can skip payments and rely on their investments, usually in the stock market.
Metro is now asking to be taken over by the federal government. That would relieve tax payers in DC, Virginia and Maryland of taking on the debt, but it would mean that taxpayers across the country would be subsidizing affluent DC riders while simultaneously trying to fund their own pension plans.
This is mass transit at its worst. Mass transit is often funded with a blind eye to costs because of the myth that it will decrease traffic congestion and benefit everyone. (That happens only in very very densely populated areas.) In most areas mass transit attracts more development. A small percentage of new residents use mass transit, the rest drive. Anyone notice a decrease in DC traffic congestion since 1976 when Metro started?
Metro and other systems like it give mass transit a bad name. Do unseen benefits make up for subsidizing rich riders? Numbers please.