Metro-fueled angst is nothing new, but a Bethesda college student home for the summer thinks his idea for improving the oft-criticized transit system could work, or at least keep the conversation going.

Jonathan Rice started a “Minimal Service? Minimal Fare,” online petition in late July after experiencing a number of delays during his morning and afternoon commute between the Bethesda and Dupont Circle stations.

He’s interning in D.C. over the summer.
Here’s a simple proposal: if Metro has a major delay or system issue, everyone that entered the system during the failure pays the minimum fare. WMATA shouldn’t be able to charge the rush hour rate if they can’t get us to work on time.
The minimum peak fare, in effect during rush hour, is $2.10. The maximum is $5.75.

Rice, a Bullis School grad and political studies major at Pitzer College outside of Los Angeles, thinks the proposal could work as a financial incentive to improve the system.

Rice said he went through perhaps his worst Metro experience last week, when on the Red Line headed downtown, his train was offloaded at the Woodley Park stop because of a switch problem at Dupont Circle. The passengers were told to leave the station and wait for a shuttle. They waited 10 minutes for the bus, were told Dupont Circle was reopened and had to pay again to get back in the station and catch the next train.

“This is the first time I’ve been commuting and it’s been a very negative experience,” Rice said. “There’s a great community of commuters here who want to reform Metro, but I want to take it to a tangible level, make it something that’s easy to digest.”

Rice is hoping for 5,000 online signatures. So far he has just shy of 80, but he maintained he’s serious about the idea.

“The goal here isn’t just to get it done, it’s to plant a seed,” Rice said. “I think in D.C., we’re a little more jaded when it comes to community organizing action, but I know people are reading it and seeing it.”

Metro increased fares to current rates on July 1, the third increase in five years. The system did get rid of its “peak-of-the-peak” charge, which added an extra 20 cents to rush hour trips.