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For Those Who Do An About-Face Beyond Metro's Gates, A Refund Is Coming

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Ever seen a full platform and turned right around? Metro will start giving you a refund for it this summer.
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Ever seen a full platform and turned right around? Metro will start giving you a refund for it this summer.

Metro is solving one of riders’ biggest pet peeves.

It is bad enough when delays result in stuffed railcars and mobbed platforms. But when riders turn about-face and immediately exit a station after passing through the fare gates to avoid such chaos, they are charged the minimum fare, $2.15 during rush hour ($1.75 off peak).

Come July 1 that will change. Riders will get a 15-minute grace period after tapping in with their SmarTrip. They still will be charged upon exiting, but will be refunded when they tap in the following day.

The change is part of new WMATA general manager Paul Wiedefeld’s overall approach to making Metro more customer-friendly.

“We have to think a little differently than maybe we have done in the past,” said Wiedefeld in remarks to reporters. “We can’t use the same management philosophies we used 20 years ago.”

The grace period is part of the transit authority’s $3 billion operating and capital budgets approved by the Metro board’s finance committee on Thursday. The refunds are expected to cost about $2 million in the first year — a measure of how often riders turn around after passing through the fare gates.

The budget, which is expected to be approved by the full board of directors in two weeks, will not raise fares, cut service, or raise the jurisdictional subsidy. Metro’s eight city and county jurisdictions subsidize about half of the $1.7 billion operating budget, with the rest largely covered by fare revenues.

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