“Metro invites public to comment on proposed budget, fares” – reader warns of bus cuts

Photo by PoPville flickr user Clif Burns

“Dear PoPville,

Just an FYI – there are a bunch of proposed bus cuts if local jurisdictions don’t step up to pay Metro’s full funding cost. I feel like the bus cuts are being overshadowed by potential changes to rail.

People can come to the Board meeting at 1pm Thursday (unlikely) [600 5th Street NW] or fill out the online form by noon Wednesday.”

60 Comment

  • The 80 bus cut is a very good idea.

    • It would be better if it just stayed on H St between North Capitol and Gallery Place. Cutting down Massachusetts is idiotic.

    • What makes you say that? Every time I’m on it, there are plenty of passengers west of the McPherson area. A large number of passengers seem to use it to get between the North Capitol part of the route and the stretch near George Washington University. I for one have never understood the logic of terminating any 80 bus at McPherson.

    • brookland_rez

      With all the recent issues, like the smoke and death, etc. I think the entire WMATA president and board need to be ousted. Who oversees WMATA? They clearly need better oversight before they get anymore money.

  • “Elimination of late-night rail service”

    Are you trying to get drunk drivers? Because that’s how you get drunk drivers.

  • Not the D2! It’s already unreliable/infrequent enough on the weekends. Half the time I get stuck waiting for 40+ minutes for it.

    • Seriously! How are they going to reduce off peak service of the D2 bus if it runs so infrequently to begin with?

    • Let the board know!

      • I did! I just submitted a comment. I also questioned what reduced frequency would look like for a route that only runs every 40 minutes on weekend evenings anyway …. every hour and a half? In that case, I can take 2 different circulators back home — which is a pain but at least they come every 10 minutes! Geez….

  • There comes a point where it’s just too difficult to take Metro. It’s already a PITA on weekends – which is why Uber, Bike Share and Car2Go are making bank.

    • +1. There are so many places in the city I would love to go and I just can’t because it will take me an hour to get there no matter what I do. Literally, I could WALK faster if Rock Creek Park wasn’t cutting me off in the middle. Geez.

    • Yup. It’s just not worth it anymore. If they make any more cuts, I’ll probably stop riding rail outside of rush hour, and stop riding the bus entirely (service is infrequent enough as it is – they want to cut more??).
      I can live without Metro, but this makes me very angry for people (probably lower-income people, mostly) for people who have no other choice.

      • +1 for remembering those that rely solely on public transportation to get around.

      • Absolutely. Especially people who aren’t by a rail station so rely on the bus service. Extreme cuts to that could literally strand people.

      • brookland_rez

        Agree completely. I ride my motorcycle to work and downtown when I can. On weekends, I never take Metro. About the only time for me is the occasional rush hour commute. I used to use it all the time. Not anymore.

  • They should make the 5A a proper no-stop direct link from downtown to Dulles, and double the fare. It would be packed solid, all day every day.

  • That was a depressing read. Seems like they want to cut sevice for most routes (except, thankfully, the 16th st buses).

  • Not the 60 bus!

  • I have a suggestion which would alleviate the budget crunch altogether. Why doesn’t Metro require everyone who rides to pay some kind of fare?

    Everyday, I observe numerous people get off the platform elevator and enter through some kind of optional gate which simply swings open without requiring one to pay to enter the station. I see just as many people get off the train and reverse this process, leaving through the this same gate and getting directly onto the elevator. Every once in a while, there is a police officer standing there but this is extremely rare (I saw this maybe once or twice during 2014). This is the Tenleytown station by the way but I’m sure the problem is system-wide. I would assume that a few of these people might be Metro employees but most of them are teenagers who look like they may be coming and going from Wilson High School.

    Why is this gate there? If it’s fire emergency related, is there a better solution?

    • Hahahahah. I was thinking the same thing!!!

    • Just a note – metro employees (unless they’re working at the station, I suppose) shouldn’t be using those swinging gates. They tap their employee IDs at the gates. However, those with MetroAccess cards are allowed to use those gates, since their cards aren’t actually integrated with SmarTrip cards.

      • Obviously folks could have disabilities that are not apparent, but none of the people that I have seen have been elderly or look the part of a disabled person. I have also observed a group of teenagers get off the elevator, see the WMATA officer standing there and exclaim “I guess, I’m taking the bus” and laugh as they get back into the elevator. Some people may be legit but there is definitely a lot of bullshit going on.

    • I once saw a guy get hand the station manager $1 to leave the U Street station. Based on their dialogue they knew each other. I’m *sure* that the station manager didn’t pocket that money. I contacted Metro about this and was told that they take this seriously. Note that I still see the same guy working there a year later.

    • If they’re students don’t they ride for free anyway?

  • If you really want to get riled up, consider that Metro employees only contribute 3% of their salary to their pension funds. Think about that next time you hear that you’re supposed to put at least 10% into your 401(k). Then think about how, in 2012, an escalator technician had a starting salary of $80,000 (according to the Washington Times).

    • And here comes the anti-union troll… How dare these workers get paid decently and their unions do their jobs!

      1) I don’t know many people who would actually want their retirement in a pension nowadays considering the increasing uncertainty of these programs.

      2) Being an escalator tech is a highly specialized and dangerous job that requires apprenticeship and proper training. These workers are routinely mangled by machinery when attempting repairs… and sorry, $80K isn’t a huge sum of money if you’re trying to raise a family in this part of the country.

      • Why wasn’t the Local 689 plan switched from a defined benefit to a defined contribution 30 years ago when the Feds switched over? Because of political cronyism. You know as well as I do that with today’s lifespans these gold plated full-salary +overtime forever plans aren’t sustainable…unless we just keep soaking the taxpayers, as usual.

    • brookland_rez

      Well the escalator technician needs to do a better job considering how often they’re broken down. Maybe if there was some fear of losing your job, things might get done better.

  • So fares will increase and services will be cut. Gotcha. Can’t we just talk about shoes?

  • Why are there only fare increases for rail and bus riders, yet those that drive to a station and park their car have no parking fee increase? Seems like the people that drive to take Metro should pick up some of the cost burden too, especially since they clearly have another mode of transportation. Not everyone that takes rail and bus is so lucky to have a fallback option when service gets crappy or isn’t running off peak hours – think of the shift workers in the area!

    • If you’re driving to metro, you’re most likely taking the metro so you’re being impacted by the fare increase as well. They’re paying $4-5 just to park and likely about the same in fares because they live further out.
      Metro has so many bigger issues than who is picking up what slack.

    • Parking fees usually increase when fares increase. I remember when it used to be something like $3.75 a day, now it’s $5.10. And my transit benefit doesn’t cover parking.

    • They are planning to a) raise the parking fee at one metro station (MN Ave) and b) extend the “paying time” one hour.

      But yes, compared to other proposals, the parking fee proposal seems a little “light”.

  • Anyone get the linked form to actually work to submit comments? I tried in both Firefox and IE. Thoughts?

  • What’s the point of terminating the 54 at McPherson Square? Doesn’t that just make it the 53? And the 52 and 54 remain plenty full south of I Street at rush hours. It’s going to get a lot worse if only the 52, on its current schedule, is running that part of the route.

    • Mootje1

      +10000000. I need to take the 52 and my only saving grace from the bus passing me at my stop is that hopefully a 53 or 54 will pick up some of the passengers that will make it “too full”.

    • Yup, pretty much. The 14th St lines used to be more frequent than the 16th st. buses. Now it seems the opposite. I think Metrobus just shifted buses over from the 14th to 16th st routes. Don’t really think that fixed anything.

    • Not to mention that the 50 series busses are super full in the mornings. I started taking the Metro because my stop (14th and Shepherd) was getting skipped maybe 1/3 of the time because the bus was too full (and when I actually got on a bus, I would see the next stop would get skipped 50% of the time). Bus should be reasonably quick for my route, but I can’t handle swings of 40 minutes to 1.5 hours… I was late all the time. So now I pay tons more for a reasonable level of predictability. I imagine many can’t make the same choice.

  • Yes, this is a great idea:
    “For example, riders at stations such as Rosslyn (Silver Line) and Gallery Place
    (Red Line) in the AM peak would see crowding (measured as average passengers per
    car) increase by 25 to 35 percent.”

  • Allison

    Does anyone know what “reduce span” means with respect to a bus? It doesn’t appear to be the same thing as reduce frequency, but there’s no definition for “span” — are they talking about reducing the geographic size of the route?

    • Allison

      Actually, it can’t mean “shorten route” because that’s the phrase they use for that. So what is “span”?

      • Maybe it means the time span during which it’s running–like going from 7a-6p to 8a-5p? That’s just a guess; I agree that it’s unclear.

    • Span = the time period over which the bus runs on any given day. So, a route that runs from 5am-9pm has a shorter span than a route that runs from 4am-10pm.

  • tonyr

    What’s the difference between Tier 1 and Tier 2 bus service changes?

    • Changes on the Tier 1 list are things Metro would have considered doing even without a budget crunch.

      Changes on the Tier 2 list are things that would hurt.

  • While these are just proposals, so many of these proposals. Maybe there are certain bus lines that can be cut, but besides that, all of these proposed changes amount to cutting service while simultaneously raising prices. If any business ever tried such a strategy, they would go bankrupt. If they implement all, or even just some of these proposals, Metro could very well fall into a “death spiral.”

    -Increasing rush hour headways to 8 min is ludicrous. Rush hour service is one of the few things WMATA does an adequate job at right now. Increasing headways will mean longer waits and more crowding until people start using other ways to get to work.

    -Increasing off-peak headways will make it increasingly impossible to rely on mass transit to get around the area outside of rush hour. It’s already pretty difficult, but now they’re trying to make it impossible.

    -Eliminating late-night service will lead to more drunk drivers on the road. Furthermore, in the past couple of decades, D.C. has slowly been turning into a city with an active nightlife, which attracts young people from around the country. Taking away late night service will severely stymie this progress. In Boston they started late night T service last year for this reason. Now D.C. wants to take a giant step back? Simply ludicrous.

    For these reasons, and many more, it is essential to submit comments, and let WMATA know that you will not stand for decreasing vital service while charging higher rates! It’s really the only option we as Washingtonians have right now unfortunately. So please write them and make your opinion heard!

    • Ugh, edit fail
      “so many of these proposals could have disastrous consequences”

    • While this should be taken seriously, this is more to scare the local governments to stop whining and pay up. It baffles me how they get to pick and choose how much they submit to the budget, whine every year, and yet their residents benefit immensely from this system.

      If MD and VA don’t want to pay for their part, and also benefit from DC’s part fine, keep service frequent for DC but tell MD/VA riders that a cut in service to their regions is because their respective political leaders don’t want to help fund the system. Tregoning had suggested this years ago, and of course it was poo-pooed by the board since MD and VA reps are on it.

      • better yet, a fare increase only for jurisdiction that don’t pay. (an extra dollar anywhere in Maryland).

  • Note that they’re talking about completely eliminating the bus from Greenbelt to BWI. They say the increased MARC Train Service makes up for it, but that’s much less convenient for folks on the Green and Yellow Line.

  • Why don’t they just cut service to Virginia and Maryland, if they refuse to pony up?
    Have the trains and buses stop at DC border or last Metro stops in DC. Prioritize routes within the District. Or keep intra-District fares the same price and only increase fares going to/from MD and VA.

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