I got to East Falls Church Metro station this morning and was taken aback by a dozen people standing around randomly just outside the fare gates. For a second I thought I was caught in that terrible move The Happening. I approached a guy fiddling with his BlackBerry and asked what was up.
"It's 9:29," he said without looking up from his tiny keyboard. "Off-peak fares kick in at 9:30." Seconds later, the glowing red clock in the station entrance changed to 9:30 and the group poured through the fare gates.
It certainly is a good idea if the next train is still a comfortable distance from the station - I saved $1.05 on my trip to Metro Center - but I've been taking Metro for 10 years and had never witnessed this as a mass phenomenon. Is it a common thing? If you're boarding just before 9:30am or 7pm, do you ever hang out for a few minutes to get the reduced fare?