Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan recently announced that EZ-Pass transponders would be available to customers at no charge, saving customers $7.50 a piece and discouraging drivers to use cash at toll lanes throughout the region.

This begs the question of what other transit-related things should be free. We currently pay for everything from tolls to gas, to rides on the Metro. Shouldn’t some of this be available at no charge so we can get some cash back in our pockets?

Here are our suggestions for transit-related things that should be free.

SmartTrip Cards - Wait, so you can’t ride the Metro system now without a SmarTrip card, but you want to charge for the card itself? Philosophically, it seems mean to charge people for something that you make them have in order to ride.

Parking at Metro Stations - On one hand, we want to encourage people to ride Metro. On the other hand, we make it costly for people to drive to stations, thus eliminating an economic incentive to use public transportation. Consider that a Metro rider from Shady Grove will spend $5.20 to park and as much as $12.00 round trip on Metro. It’s possible to drive and park at your final destination for less.

Any Delayed Trip - To its credit, Metro now refunds fares to riders if they experience a delay of 15 minutes or more during rush hour. But this refund idea should be picked up by other transit services including MARC Train, VRE and regional bus companies. People should not have to pay for service that does not meet a basic standard.

Electricity - We want to encourage the use of electric cars, but these cars are still costly to buy, and you have to pay for the electricity when you recharge. Electricity is cheaper than gas, but electric car owners still might cost hundreds of dollars each year. But what if charging stations were free? What if you could drive your car, plug it in at the garage near your office, and never pay a dime? All-electric cars would take off.

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