Families, like the weather, are changeable things.
So, it seems, are family discount fares.
One day after unveiling their family fare rates to the new Camden Yards ballpark, Mass Transit Administration officials yesterday changed their minds.
Too complicated and not equitable, they said.
The basic problem: Discounts for the MTA park-and-ride buses, the light rail, the Metro and regular bus service defined families as any group of four. But the MTA's Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) system required two adults and two children between the ages of 5 and 15 to qualify for a family fare.
The solution: Give a discount to any group of four on all MTA services.
"We decided to take another look. It was more complicated than it needed to be," said Dianna Rosborough, an MTA spokeswoman. "We reconsidered our original proposal because we want to make it simple and equitable to come to the ballpark."
Here's the MTA's new offer in a nutshell. Buy an "MTA Baseball Card" and display it, along with four Orioles tickets, and any group of four people, related or not, can board a bus, subway, light-rail car or MARC train on a game day.
The cards cost $8 for trips inside the Beltway, $14 outside (except on light rail, which is $8 anywhere).
Baseball Cards for use on MARC commuter trains will cost more, but MTA has yet to decide how much.
The MARC system will also retain a family fare that uses the old definition: two adults and two children between 5 and 15. (Children under 5 ride free). The rates vary from station to station and will likely offer qualifying families a deeper discount than the MTA Baseball Card.
MTA Baseball Cards can be purchased beginning April 1 at the ballpark, at MTA's transit store at 300 W. Lexington St., and at the three Metro stores at Owings Mills, Mondawmin or Charles Center.
Here's another tidbit: Collect five MTA Baseball Cards and you can get a free one of equal value.
Don't feel like collecting? MTA will invite its customers to fill in their names and addresses on the back of Baseball Cards and return them to MTA to qualify for a drawing of Orioles tickets.