The AU Student Government hopes to provide a Metro discount for AU students by creating SmarTrip-compatible AU IDs to get data on student ridership that will ultimately lead to a discount, according to SG President Andy MacCracken.
MacCracken also said a D.C.-wide student discount will not be implemented because of the varying distances that students travel depending on the school they attend.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority made a few student Metro discount proposals last year, but none of these turned into discounts because there is no accurate data on AU student ridership, according to MacCracken.
“Metro thinks students ride the Metro more regularly than they actually do,” he said. “These inflated numbers make them predict higher costs to cover.”
The SG has been working on getting a student discount for years, but MacCracken thinks the process is slow because the WMATA has more pressing issues to deal with.
SmarTrip-compatible AU IDs will give the WMATA the data on student ridership needed to estimate the cost of the discount, according to MacCracken.
One of the WMATA’s proposals is to charge students $296 for a semester’s worth of usage, but that would only be worth it for students who go downtown and back in rush hour every weekday, MacCracken said.
“I’d venture to say 95 percent of us don’t do that, which means the cost is inflated,” MacCracken said. “If we can properly show that our ridership is lower, that $296 would drop quickly.”
Even if the WMATA can estimate how often students use public transportation, they cannot predict how far students are traveling. In D.C., the distance a student travels on the Metro determines the price of their trip. All D.C. colleges are in different locations and have students travel at different distances, a blanket program for all schools cannot be created, MacCracken said.
If a student discount is established, it would probably be subsidized by AU or the D.C. government, according to MacCracken.
“If I had enough money, I would subsidize it myself,” he said. “So if you have a really rich uncle who really likes helping students travel, let me know.”
Liron Bruck, a junior in the School of Public Affairs, grew up in Israel where students get a discount on public transportation. It is especially important for students who have unpaid internships to get a transportation discount, since they should not be paying as much to go to work, she said.
“Almost every country in the world has a discount in transportation for students,” she said. “Students use the Metro a lot as a way to go to their unpaid internships.”
Kirsten Neus, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs, said SmarTrip-compatible AU IDs would be convenient for students who do not have money but have EagleBucks.
“It would be convenient for students to be able to use their AU IDs as a SmarTrip if they could use their EagleBucks to swipe into the Metro,” she said. “But it would be even better if there was a discount too.”