“The elimination of late-night Metrorail service could halt the transformation [of] DowntownDC”

Washington, DC

Washington, DC

Photo by PoPville flickr user Eric P.

From the DowntownDC BID:

“Statement from Executive Director Neil Albert on WMATA’s Plan to Permanently Eliminate Late-Night Metrorail Service

“The elimination of late-night Metrorail service could halt the transformation DowntownDC has been experiencing over the past 17 years.

“The elimination of late-night Metro service would return Downtown to the year 1999, the last time Metro closed at midnight. That year, the decision was made to extend service hours until 1am on Friday and Saturday nights. Later, in 2007, with strong support from the business community, late-night weekend service was further extended to 3am as Metro’s leadership leveraged private sector investments in the downtown late-night economy.

“Late-night Metro service enables customers to travel to and from bars, restaurants, theaters, and the Verizon Center safely, efficiently and affordably. The service is essential to the many workers who form the backbone of Downtown’s late night economy; security guards, restaurant and hotel workers and maintenance staff.

“Late-night transit service is a vital part of a transit-oriented lifestyle not only for the 10,000 residents of DowntownDC, but for all Metrorail accessible neighborhoods in the city and the region.

“While I recognize the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) need for adequate maintenance windows, many Metrorail peer systems complete maintenance without completely shuttering their transit systems. Chicago’s two-track Blue Line, Philadelphia’s PATCO Speedline, and NY/NJ’s PATH train operate 24 hours a day. Atlanta offers rail service from 5am to 1am, seven days a week. London will soon offer 24-hour service on Fridays and Saturdays on select Underground lines.

“The DowntownDC BID supports WMATA’s efforts to build a safe and reliable rail and bus system and stands ready to engage with WMATA to find practical and lasting maintenance solutions that will enable the growth and development of D.C. to continue.”

98 Comment

  • “The elimination of late-night Metro service would return Downtown to the year 1999”

    Sounds great to me

  • I would prefer temporarily suspending late night service so that maintenance can be done at night as opposed to single tracking or shutting down stations during the day. That said, I never take the metro past 10ish. Even though I’m only a block from a station, I just don’t feel safe walking around by myself that late, when there aren’t many people out and about in my neighborhood.

  • Compromise
    -Close at 10 on Sundays as proposed
    -Delay opening on Sunday until 8 a.m.
    -Close at 3 a.m Fridays and Saturdays
    -IF after a year of resumed 3 a.m. closings it is found to be detrimental then switch over to expanded late night bus service.

    • maxwell smart

      “Delay opening on Sunday until 8 a.m” – clearly you fail to understand the power the religious lobby has in DC.

      • What time do Sunday church services typically start? Or does it vary widely? I realize people may have a long transit ride to get there.

        • In some Christian churches Sunday school starts at 7:30 and regular service at 8 am or 10:30/11. If you are a church employee you may have to arrive as early as 2 hours before service to set up and get the building ready.

          The 7 am opening may present a challenge to those who live in DC and commuting to Maryland or VA for church and vice versa.

      • they don’t metro. they all drive and park on my street (it seems) for church.

  • Sucks, but it’s histrionic to compare the present day to 1999, when they didn’t have Uber pool and Lyft line.

    I think WMATA has very strong incentives (political and financial) to stay open late, so I doubt they’d do something like this unless it was absolutely necessary.

    • “I think WMATA has very strong incentives (political and financial) to stay open late, so I doubt they’d do something like this unless it was absolutely necessary.”

      I have yet to see that WMATA has any real incentive to provide a usable level of service at any time of day, honestly. Don’t know what your reasoning is.

      Also, Uber and Lyft are great if you’re going a couple of miles, but for most people only an expanded bus route will be anything close to a substitute financially. It’s a big leap of faith to assume that Metro’s going to get its act together and provide that, at least at this point.

      • Agree with Dave. As discussed in the initial post regarding this proposal, WMATA has a financial disincentive to stay open late, because they lose money doing it.
        And +1 Dave on Uber and Lyft.

    • This seems more of a ploy to cut service and reduce costs more than doing actual maintenance. I can understand some catch-up work, but plenty of two-track metro systems do perfectly fine with a shorter maintenance window.

      • I wonder what kind of service will be restored after safe track is done. Are they conditioning us to accept a lower level of service? I wish they’d be more upfront about some of these things- if our system is financially unsustainable as it is, make the cuts and tell us why. Make sure riders understand the dynamics of why the system is operating like it is so they can put pressure on lawmakers to actually address the core funding problem.

  • Georgia Ave. Streetcar.

    Problem Solved. I’m going on my popcorn break.

  • Meh. Lots of cities with sh!tty public transit have vibrant night life (see SF, LA). I think this will actually be good for neighborhoods. Right now massive amounts of people coming in from the suburbs a few nights a week are driving up commercial rents to astronomical levels. Only high price, high volume restaurants/bars can support that.
    If commerce were driven more by people close by, I think we’d see a better mix of businesses. Plus, worse transit will make living in DC more attractive.

    • San Francisco has very good public transit. And LA cannot be compared to DC. For starters, it’s always been a car-centric town. And the population, retail, office, and entertainment areas are spread all over the LA-region, not centered in a few square mile area as DC’s are.

      • +1. But also, LA’s public transit might not be great but given it’s sprawl, the metro and metrolink (above ground train from the burbs to downtown) are reliable options. I have friends that use them daily and I also periodically used them when I lived there.
        Lastly, “worse transit will make living in DC more attractive”? Worse transit will drive up rents even higher as people try to move closer in. It’s bad enough as it is. If it gets any worse I think many people (especially the influx of young professionals) would be looking to leave the city entirely.

        • Very true re LA transit. I’ve ridden Metrolink and buses in LA on many occasions and found them both to be pleasant and reliable. But I still rent a car whenever I’m there.

      • Oh dear. I take it you’ve never really had to wait for the N Judah? SF Muni is horrible, the two-car trains at rush hour are a joke and the late-night “Owl” service is even funnier still.

        • I lived in San Francisco in the late 90s/early 2000s, when Muni completely melted down (I was stuck underground for hours on an N Judah during that time) and have been back a couple of times a year since. I still think that SF has a very good public transport system.

    • maxwell smart

      You can’t seriously be trying to compare LA to DC? There is literally nothing similar about the cities.

    • ?? Have you been to San Fran? Their system is decent, and certainly way better than ours.

  • The real winners here are DUI attorneys and Uber Drivers throughout the DC area.

  • This feels like a Herm Edwards press conference: “you exist to run the trains!” The point of a train system is to run trains so that people can take the trains where they need to go. The fact that there are alternative methods of transportation now that did not exist when they changed the hours is irrelevant. The fact that the BID is weighing in on this suggests the potential for material harm to commerce, personal safety and the ability for people to enjoy the city. Of course WMATA wants to run fewer trains during fewer hours: it makes what they perceive to be their job easier, eg, maintaining the system. The problem is that there is a bigger picture here, which is that DC is a large, growing city and public transit is extremely important to continued growth and overall quality of life. There is clearly a way to keep the trains maintained on the current schedule: WMATA is the entity charged with figuring that out, not simply cutting operations.

  • I read yesterday in the Post that, between 12am and 3am, Metro averages just 2500 passengers an hour. If that’s true, then I totally get why they would want to shut down early. The number of employees needed to keep the system running far outweighs the paltry number of riders.

    • If what you are suggesting is that the cost to run the system during those hours outweighs the revenue from the riders well, let’s see that data and WMATA can propose cutting service from a cost standpoint. That doesn’t sound like what they are saying, which seems to be that they need a permanent maintenance schedule in place that would occur during previously operational hours. Either way, were that the case I think one could point to data re: peak ridership revenue vs. cost and suggest that the overall budget is the problem: you can’t simply isolate the budget during specific hours and say well, this portion is not profitable. That logic would lead to the system running from 6AM-10AM, then shutting, then opening from 4PM-7PM. The system does not exist to be profitable, although it should run efficiently and under budget. The system exists to promote the welfare of the people of Washington and those who visit. If cutting hours as proposed detracts from that goal AND there are other alternatives for maintaining the system, eg, more efficient operations, a full-scale budget review, those should be preferred.

    • One might argue that the system averages so few riders because it has become completely unusable after midnight…. But to those riders – who pretty obviously have no other choice if they haven’t abandoned Metro at this point – Metro service is crucial.

      • HaileUnlikely

        In this thread and yesterdays, there have been a great many assumptions made about who uses the metro during the hours in question and why. I don’t think we really have any idea. For every anecdote of “I know a shift worker” or “I was a shift worker” or “I am a shift worker,” there are surely a few anecdotes of “I use it to get home after going out drinking” or similar. But those are anecdotes. We have no actual data on this, and that is a problem. We don’t even know whether the proportion of late-night metro users who are using the metro at those hours for the purpose of traveling to or home from work is closer to 5% or 75%. We really don’t have any idea.

        • I would like to think that keeping drunk drivers off the road is also a high priority for DC.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I agree with you, and agree that the link that you are implying is perfectly logical, but I’d find it a whole lot more compelling if I could find studies of the relationship between transit service hours and drunk driving, and the one and only one halfway decent study of such that I have seen found no such thing.

          • GUYS! Guys! HaileUnlikely is unconvinced! Quick – let’s fund some dubious studies for him, lest he continue to remain unconvinced forever.

          • HaileUnlikely

            My position is basically that policy decisions should be informed by facts and data whenever possible. Not only having no data but not even wanting any data is a pretty lame position from which to counter it.

          • Of course decisions should be made based on data – quite profound! You just insert a whole lot of “I’s” into something that has nothing to do with you. Well, unless you’re the new GM, which most clearly you are not.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Nor with you.

          • You would like to think a lot of things. It is clearly not a priority for DC as it is hardly enforced at all.

      • Agreed. The broader view from many, although anecdotal, is that WMATA does not view the train system as important for the region or the people who use it, eg, they do not empathize with desire for clean, safe, efficient operations for actual riders in the real world. For a variety of reasons (WMATA leadership does not ride metro regularly, they are a political body, they have personal/financial matters that are more important to them, etc), WMATA has become a hugely bureaucratic entity that seeks to curtail criticism for it’s own sake, not the sake of the city and the region. So, the people who run WMATA don’t care about rider experience or the greater good: if they could they would probably shut down the trains at 7 or 8PM every day to cut costs and maintain the system, which would allow them to fulfill their perceived mandate. Bottom line re: negative impacts from cutting late night service? They JUST DON”T CARE.

        • They don’t care or they view Metro as an alternative mode of transportation outside of working hours and not primary on nights and weekends. The walkable, bikeable, transit everywhere lifestyle is still very fresh for a lot of folks and I guess like everyone else, metro needs to adjust. In their minds, making Metro safer and more reliable from an operational standpoint is the ground work needed to support a transit friendly lifestyle and that really is hard to argue against.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Personally, I would not go so far as to say that I do not care, but I value maintenance that makes the system break down less in the middle of the day and prevents fires and crashes and carnage and death more than I value providing convenient transportation for nightlife (People who can afford to to be going to bars and shows can afford other transportation options.) I do sympathize with people who rely on metro to travel home from low-paying work late at night, though, and regardless of my irrelevant sympathies, transit systems are required to examine whether any major service changes have disproportionate impacts on minorities and low-income populations. Thus, not having anything better than a wild guess as to whether the proportion using metro at those hours who are reliant on it for transportation to or home from employment is closer to “almost none” or “about half” or “almost all” is a very serious problem.

          • Of course: if it really is a trade-off between carnage/death/fire/trains crashing vs. running for a few hours late at night, well, cut the hours. And I agree with you re: data on late night passengers, impact, etc. However, I don’t think that we have too much reason to trust WMATA that this is the case. I am not a train engineer or a demographer, but it does seem that somehow other cities run late night trains without risk of dismemberment, stabbings, death by smoke inhalation, hot cars, slow trains and the other bad things that we have. Additionally, WMATA doesn’t have a sparkling reputation for efficient operations: it is the total opposite. Employee theft and fraud, management chaos, budget overruns, lack of oversight; these are all commonplace within WMATA. I suppose I am suggesting that, as with many cases, there is the “good reason and the real reason.” Here WMATA is saying that maintenance is the “good reason” to foreclose late night service, I am suggesting that the “real reason” is that it is a quick and convenient justification for not doing the hard work of making the system function more efficiently and effectively over time while maintaining a high level of quality.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I’m basically willing to give Wiedefeld the benefit of the doubt regarding the purpose being to perform maintenance. I agree with the rest of what you have said here, though. My main purpose was to highlight that assumptions about who is using the system and why were being plucked out of thin air.

          • I find it odd that you have such a high bar for comprehensive data on the demographic and financial metrics implicit in late night train service while you baldly admit to accepting WMATA management’s claims at face value with zero data or justification whatsoever.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Fair enough. That is an inconsistency that I have. I’m usually willing to take people at their word about their goals and aspirations and motivations, rather than assuming that they are acting in bad faith. It sets me up for disappointment from time to time, but I’m not the kind of person who wants to go through life assuming the worst about everybody.
            In contrast, who is using the metro and why is eminently knowable but nobody here happens to know it, and when the answer is a simple number that it just so happens nobody in the conversation happens to know, opinions regarding what people think that number is aren’t particularly helpful.

  • Metro has always been an awkward commuter rail/urban subway hybrid. But, in the past 5 years, the system has gone full on commuter rail line. Extensions in suburbia over core expansions, 20 minute headways, and the curtalining of late night service.

    We are left with a system that is ok for rush hour commuting or big events on the Mall, but sucks for day-to-day urban transit. DC can’t relay on Metro any longer. We need to expedite work on an express bus or light rail system.

    • Exactly. Additionally, the expansions into the suburbs hasn’t been met with a financial investment from Virginia and Maryland to support the system they are over-extending.

    • you mean the system has reverted to full on commuter line. They tried late night service, but were too incompetent to perform late-night service and regular maintenance.
      Not to mention the steady money loss that goes along with late night service. At the end of the day, fares/tax subsidy would have to increase substantially to provide true subway reliability in fairly low-density urban environment like the DMV.

  • Better start demanding more buses.

  • When was the last time anyone actually rode the metro this late? I’m hearing a lot of postulating about possible narratives (“nightlife worker who lives far enough in the suburbs that Uber is impractical but close enough to a metro that metro is practical” would be a greatest hits summary) and nobody actually admitting to using late-night service. I generally metro to get out on weekend nights, but Uber home. Been that way for several years now. Before Uber, late-night weekends was conceivably the only time I actually took cabs. Why? Because weekend late-night service sucked, waiting for a train was the last thing I wanted to do while inebriated and tired, and/or because I didn’t necessarily feel safe walking from the metro when I lived in neighborhoods that didn’t have much nightlife themselves (and when I did live in neighborhoods with nightlife, the issue rarely came up because I could usually walk straight home).
    I get that the city is big and varied and the economy benefits from a lot of unforeseen edge cases. But I think people are being a little unreasonable about the impact this would actually have. I don’t think late-night metro service has been that important a driver in our economy, relative to the many many other factors that have made Downtown and other parts of the city blossom.

    • I havent taken the metro in years to go out at night but I do remember those days of walking into a station at 10pm after happy hour only to see Green Line and a 22 next to it as my Cognac, inebriated self hung my head in shame only for the train to arrive and sit for another 5 min to leave and me thinking “Next time I’m driving….”

      • That’s precisely why we should be emphasizing the importance of a late-night system. There may not be a lot of riders late at night, but these are the people you do not want on the road (whether they’re tired from a long night shift or coming home from the bars).

        • Drink responsibly and sober up before leaving.

        • But Uber exists now. Between the cost of parking and the cost of gas, to say nothing of the potential endless money/life costs of a DUI, those people should be ridesharing and not driving. If they live so far away that Ubering is financially impossible for them, then maybe they shouldn’t be going out at all? I highly doubt they were metroing anyway. This is a self-correcting problem.

          • It really is a self correcting problem

          • maxwell smart

            Are Uber & Lyft really an option for late-night bar goers? Here’s my experience – Despite the GPS, I routinely have to back-seat driver and provide detailed turn-by-turn coaching for almost every Uber driver I have had. I’ve accepted that something as simple as “Union Station” will be meet with “Where? How do I get there?” and I will have to navigate them through it. So… after a couple of drinks, I don’t see that going so well.

          • Yes, we should absolutely correct this problem of people spending money and giving sales and liquor taxes to DC. It’s not like people in Wheaton or other dense suburban areas deserve to have fun.

          • Haha… +1 to anon 12:59.

    • Best most reasonable response so far.

    • Just because you use Uber to go home on weekend nights doesn’t mean that everyone else does.
      I acknowledge that running trains after midnight on weekends might not be the most cost-effective thing for WMATA… but it’s not accurate to say that “no one” takes those late-night trains. I’ve always taken Metro to/from when I’m going to the U Street area on Friday or Saturday nights. (I used to do this for Dupont too, but switched to driving after an instance where I waited 18-20 minutes for a Red Line train at Dupont and then another 18-20 minutes at Gallery Place for a Green Line train.)
      I held off on getting a smartphone for a looooong time. The main reason I finally got one was the SafeTrack-related ending of late-night Metro service on Friday and Saturday nights.

      • +1. Really don’t understand the post. “Late night metro service has never made sense for me… do other people really use it?!”

      • maxwell smart

        wow. just wow.

      • Oh, I also wanted to add — back when there was NOT late-night Metro service and I was usually taking a bus home, my experience was that certain routes became really unreliable late at night.
        I was usually taking the 42 bus from Dupont Circle to Adams Morgan. I can’t even count the number of times that it would be late (like 20 minutes late), or just didn’t show up at all… leaving me to wait 30 minutes for the following bus. Sometimes I’d cave in and take a taxi, but I was not particularly well-paid back then and didn’t really have the funds to be taking cabs on a regular basis.
        Not everyone who’s partaking of D.C. nightlife has lots of $$. I rarely had more than one drink at a bar, and for venues with cover charges, I tried to arrive before the cover charge kicked in.

    • Blithe

      I ride the Metro quite late, several times a month — often to visit friends who live in the suburbs. Metro, for me, is a far less expensive, and far safer option than taking cabs or using Uber and other ride-sharing options. Losing late night service would have a significant, negative impact for me.

      – When I think of my ability to come home on weekends and holidays, or to travel to care for a critically ill family member, or to attempt to commute to a job in Baltimore, much of this was possible for me only because Metro’s late night service made it safe and affordable to do so. – What sucks is that after living with the huge impact of the initial Metro construction, decades later, I/we could be losing out on critical benefits that made enduring the blocked streets, noisy construction zones and other negative social and financial costs seem worth it.
      – The Metro has been a critical factor in the gentrification of Washington, and consequently, a critical factor that led to many of my friends now living in the far-flung suburbs — which will now become much less accessible for me if the Metro permanently eliminates late night service.

    • maxwell smart

      “I’m hearing a lot of postulating about possible narratives (“nightlife worker who lives far enough in the suburbs that Uber is impractical but close enough to a metro that metro is practical” would be a greatest hits summary)”

      When I first moved to DC, my 9-5 job didn’t pay enough, so I had to take a 2nd job in retail as a closing supervisor close to my apartment. Nearly all of my employees were also working retail as a 2nd income and all had fairly long metro commutes home involving at least 2 lines. During the holidays, when the store would stay open later, I would often have to let those people leave early (at the non-holiday closing time) so they would be able to catch a train to get home. Otherwise they would have been stranded and faced with who knows long a bus ride home. This is exactly what this will result in – business faced with a decision to close their doors earlier in the evening so their staff, who can not afford other options, to get home OR workers will have cut back on hours worked or look for jobs closer to home.

      • That’s unfortunate, too, since we’re a pretty early-closing city to begin with. I was always surprised when I moved to DC how early everything closes, and kind of peeved that I couldn’t go shopping after 7pm some nights or have a coffee date after 8 or 9.

  • This is terrible for the theatre community. Most Sunday night curtains are at 7:30 – good luck getting home at all if you aren’t driving. A shift to 7 pm curtain up is not really going to buy you much time if a show is 2 and a half hours long.

    If you think no one takes Metro on weekends, I invite you to hang out on the Foggy Bottom platform after a Sunday evening show at the Kennedy Center ends – people are heading back to VA as well as through the city and into Maryland.

    Plus of course the numerous events, sporting and non, at Verizon Center and Nats Park that are frequently scheduled for evenings and need the ability to use Sundays for scheduling. If the system shuts at 10, your event better end by 9. That’s extremely early. Do you expect concert times at 6? It doesn’t destroy the industry, exactly, but it cuts 1/7 of the week from scheduling if there are events that parking cannot support. (Take Logan/14th Street Corridor: Studio often has two theatres running, Black Cat, possibly up to 100 people at Source for an event, and all the restaurants and bars. People come into the city from the region for these draws; killing off one later night of Metro access will be a cluster. “Everyone can just Uber” – 600 people getting done within a 45 minute span should just Uber? And that’s just one neighbourhood requiring conservatively 250 drivers.)

    This is really, really bad.

    • +100

    • skj84

      +100. Theatre Community, restaurant workers, retail workers, nurses, custodians, hotel employees etc… But most of these people are low income, so screw them I guess? Their needs don’t matter.

      • Tsar of Truxton

        People keep saying things like this, but the data seems to support the fact that very few people are really using metro during these hours anyway. There are still bus lines and other modes of transport. How are people surviving this year of Safe Track? They must be doing something to get home.

        • Yes, but that doesn’t mean they’re willing to do so forever. I’m lucky to be able to splurge on an Uber home a couple of times a month on a Saturday night, but as long headways drag on, I’ve eventually got to face reality and grab a metro home at 11:45. It’s obviously much worse for many others.

          Also: again, re: ridership levels, please don’t ignore that late-night ridership is down 50% since the last maintenance boost began in 2011.

          • maxwell smart

            Isn’t overall ridership down systemwide to 2004 levels?

          • Tsar of Truxton

            Do you know for a fact that decreased ridership is 100% caused by the maintenance boost? Did you ever think that some or all of the difference may be caused by alternative services? Uber launched in DC in 2011. Cabs were required to accept credit cards in 2013 (I think). These are all alternative services that could have led to reduction in overall ridership, as much if not more than the maintenance. People are arguing that people can’t afford alternatives and then make arguments that people have stopped using metro late night because it is unreliable. Those two arguments don’t seem to match-up.

          • Tsar – of course not 100%, but DC is totally unique in the US in that rail use has fallen over the past five years (again, while the region has grown). Ride sharing doesn’t just exist here. Not sure how much more clear that can be that WMATA running fewer trains leads to fewer regular riders, at any time of day.

        • The data that have been presented here are only for Midnight-3 AM Fri/Sat. No data have been presented for 10 PM – Midnight Sunday. Personally, I know the two grocery stores I frequent cut their staff back at 10 PM (because I try to check out right before then, when they are neither busy nor running a skeleton crew). There are also a lot of fast food restaurants that close at 10 or 11 PM, or, like, 9-9:30, which means catching a train is going to be tight. Speaking of fast food only, in my neighborhood alone, counting only places within very close proximity to the Metro, with Sunday closings between 9 and 11 PM: Jersey Mikes, Chipotle x 2, Popeyes, Subway, McDonalds x 2, Potbelly, &Pizza…and a bunch of small places I’m sure I’m missing. That’s a pretty sizable number of low income workers from just one neighborhood. Since safe track isn’t shutting down any service before Midnight that it’s not replacing (bus bridges may suck, but they at least exist), these workers wouldn’t be “stranded” because of it.

        • skj84

          Because its really freaking inconvenient to take 2 or 3 bus lines to get home, especially when its easier to just take a train. And while maybe they have found temporary solutions during Safetrack, they shouldn’t have to be forced to do it forever. I am appalled by the lack of compassion some of you are showing. “Oh, the data doesn’t show it”, “Oh, it doesn’t affect me”. The privilege of those statements. I can afford to take Uber late at night, and don’t have to worry about how I’m getting home late, but I still care about others who don’t have that option.

          • +1,000. Thank you.

          • Tsar of Truxton

            That, or some of us see that inconveniencing a few for the safety of the many is a better option and that doesn’t even touch on the pure cost-efficiency argument.

          • skj84

            2500 people is not a few. And I would bet dollars over donuts that the data is skewed. That it isn’t an accurate representation of how many people actually take metro at one time. Data is not absolute. But keep on telling yourself that. I’m sure it helps you sleep at night.

          • Tsar of Truxton

            In an area that has 6 million people, I think it is fair to classify 2500 (actually 7500 from the data that has been tossed around) as “the few.” Eff it, instead of bothering those 7500 people two nights a week, let’s just have trains break down and emergency track maintenance in the middle of rush hour and inconvenience hundreds of thousands. Good plan!

          • skj84

            Or maybe find another time to do track work? Is there any reason that track work has to be done at those times and those times only? What if they stagger the work. Did that ever occur to your sad elitist mind? Of course not. Privileged people can’t think outside the box. I feel bad for you.

  • This is absurd. Straight up

  • Honestly if one more person mentions Uber and Lyft as solution to this… This is a huge blow to the working poor in DC. Period. And opening Metro later (7 am is already absurd.) is equally damaging to this segment of the population.

    • but is paying for the whole system to remain open for their use the best use of scarce resources?

      • Blithe

        Probably not. But I hope that recognizing the potential severe impact on people who may not have other transportation options might lead to developing reasonable services such as dedicated late night buses that replicate the Metro routes.

        • completely agree. Bus bridges between stations seems like the best option (to me). Now, *I* wouldn’t want to stand in front of a closed station at 2:45AM waiting on a bus, but that may be the least-worst solution here.

      • You can’t expect every public service to run at a profit.

    • maxwell smart

      It really speaks to the nouveau riche mindset of most of DC these days.

      • Tsar of Truxton

        I don’t think that is necessarily true. It might speak more to where people live. I can take an Uberpool from the 14th/U Street area for ~$3-4 or I could take metro for ~$2. One method gets me door-to-door in about 10 minutes and is safer whereas the other could take me 45 minutes or more and includes walking through dark neighborhoods late at night. If I have one other person with me, the cost is identical for the door-to-door service. The choice for me is easy. Now, if I lived in Vienna, paying a few bucks for metro v. $20+ for an Uber might make more sense.

        Also, since people have been using anecdotes, I would say that in my experience when I used to take late night transit, buses (uneffected) are much more crowded than trains and the people on the trains tend to be the younger drinking crowd and not low-income workers returning home.

        • maxwell smart

          Exactly. You have the benefit, and income, to afford to live in the urban center of DC, and therefore nightlife, events, employment, are all within maybe a 2 mile radius. Not many people have that luxury, and even fewer will with reduced transit, which will only drive prices in those areas even higher. I agree that bar patrons are not the priority here – if you have enough money for cocktails on 14th street, you can afford the cab ride home. The same can’t be said for the people who keep those establishments operational.

  • I’m honestly surprised by the backlash to this proposal. I’m all for reasonable ideas to help make metro more reliable and safe over the long-term. I think it’s short-sited to think that 9 months of intensive maintenance will be a cure-all, and we will need to make some changes to prevent the system from continuing to deteriorate. We all see what happened when ongoing maintenance was not prioritized. And, if it’s also money-driven, then I’m also all for it. Maybe it would be better as an interim proposal, to be evaluated after 2 years. But, frankly, we all have complained about the crappy state of metro but seem unwilling to let them make investments to improve it over the long-term. We complain about metro’s lack of a safety culture but perhaps we’re also contributing to said culture.

    • Yeah, this seems to be the fundamental divide. I’m in the camp that thinks it’s most likely WMATA isn’t using its significant downtime efficiently (see link below for latest of 1,000 examples), but reasonable adults can of course disagree.


    • Blithe

      A relatively small number of people use the late night services — but for those of us who do use them, having the services matters a lot. I’m guessing that many/most of the people who see the proposed changes as reasonable, are those who have cars or can afford Uber as alternatives, and/or are in the very large group of people who don’t use the late night services, and can’t imagine how critical they might be for those of us who do. That’s not to say that the proposal isn’t reasonable from a financial and a safety perspective. It could be “reasonable” and still have a significant, negative impact for many people.

  • maxwell smart

    Public transit is a loss-based industry. Very few, if any, public transit systems break-even from fares alone. They all rely on incentives from local government to remain operational. Cities expect they will lose money on public transit – they continue to operate them because they provide a necessary service and contribute to growth in the region. So the decision to cut late-night service really ins’t about WMATA finances (sure they save some money in the process) – it’s part of a bigger picture, which is what the point of DowntownDC Bid’s statement is getting to. The reduction in late night service will disincentive business from opening / continue to stay open in the District and will only serve to add to sprawl.

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