The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has lost millions of dollars because of unpaid transit fares, WUSA reported Tuesday.
WMATA’s latest quarterly report found that the agency is losing at least $36 million in revenue annually – $26 million from unpaid Metrobus fares and $10 million from Metrorail evasion. Dan Stessel, a WMATA spokesman, told WUSA that the lost money could have significantly impacted funding Metro projects, like Red and Yellow line extensions or plans to increase Metro availability during rush hour.
“Thirty-six million dollars could have funded all of these initiatives, plus a flat $2 fare on weekends and still had money left over for new and better bus services,” Stessel said.
Stessel added that the $36 million is a “conservative” estimate because Metrobuses use a clicker to count each person who enters a bus, but counting Metrorail riders is more difficult. WMATA will release a new estimated total once fare evasion gates are installed at all Metro stops, WUSA reported.
WMATA’s findings come one year after the D.C. Council lowered fare evasion repercussions from a $300 fine to a $50 civil violation, according to WUSA.
The findings surface one month after The Washington Post found that WMATA does not track whether fare evasion fines are paid.