For the first time since living in DC, I am seriously doubting out mass transit system. The current CEO just submitted his resignation, passengers and workers seem more vulnerable to safety issues than ever, and we're likely to have to pay more for less service very soon. The recent winter storms cost the agency $18 million and the general financial outlook is not favorable for riders of bus or rail.
The Post's Robert Thompson mentioned some of the potential changes here. He was pulling from a report (fairly large PDF) from a WMATA committee exploring cost cutting measures.
Here are some of the scariest possible changes coming our way. These are not final! This is really a cost/benefit tally and background for when the decisions do have to be made about service cuts and fare increases.
Number 10) Reduce bus service on various routes on Martin Luther King Jr Day, Veterans Day and Columbus Day. --Previously had normal weekday service on these days.
9) Eliminate 8 car trains during rush hour. --Okaaaayyyy... never really see them in service anyway.
8) Increase fare for B30 (bus to BWI) and 5A (bus to IAD) to at least $6.00. --Yikes! Still better than cabbing it there. I guess.
7) Increase bus fare from $1.25 to $1.50. --I'm actually not 100% against this, although its a steep percentage increase at once.
6) Increase the minimum rush hour rail fare from $1.65 to $1.90. -- Consider that the maximum fare would also increase to $5.00; for a single trip.
5) Increase yearly bike locker rental fee (at Metro stations) from $75 to $200. --I see this mostly deterring participation in this program.
4) No Yellow Line service between Huntington and King St on weekends. Replaced with a bus shuttle. --Almost laughable. VA people, get on this.
3) Increase wait time for trains to 15 min on Saturday daytime, 20 min Sunday daytime and 30 min late night on Saturday and Sunday. --This is a joke, right?
2) Close three (unspecified) stations on the weekend. --Don't see this ever happening for political reasons.
1) Close rail system at 12:00 midnight on Friday and Saturday. --Devastating for partiers and service workers. This WILL put more drunk drivers on the roads of DC, Maryland and Virginia.
Honorable mention, if there is such a distinction for this list:
**Eliminate Yellow Line service between Mt Vernon Sq and Fort Totten. --This was a life saver on late nights. Could live without it in the end.
**Eliminate 42 bus service between McPherson Sq and 9th and G (on 33 select trips throughout the week). --Noooooooooo! I'd hate this. My link to downtown gone!?
** Eliminate H1 bus. --Would hinder Columbia Heights to Dupont commuters.
Some of these are worst case scenarios. This WMATA report is an important step in determining how to move forward. We need to know the impact, both in dollars and human capital, of these changes. Some will be devastating to particular populations, economic and geographic.
If you have political representatives regarding this matter, call them, email them, show up at their offices. They need to know what you think. For Ward One residents, that's Jim Graham, who has been on the Metro Board for over 10 years. All of us will lose out a little in this exchange, though. The key is that Metro make the best decisions it can for the continuity of basic, safe transit service while planning for a prosperous and expansive future for the best transit system in the nation. Is that too much to ask?