Talkin’ Transit: Stop-Gaps and Cuts

Photo courtesy of
‘CSC_1718’, courtesy of ‘Ghost_Bear’

By now, everyone has heard (or is aware) that WMATA has a $29M gap in their budget to fill. And soon. Early suggestions by some parties (coughGrahamcough) was to use part of the $200M bailout money to fill the gap. Which is a stupid idea. And most board members agreed; that idea got tossed last week. (I’m glad there’s some actual common sense being demonstrated now over in Metro’s HQ; use the stimulus money for the listed projects originally put forth. It’s not a magic piggy-bank to use for stop-gaps.)

So what does WMATA do? Michael Perkins over at GGW gave a great rundown of the four options that Metro really has at this point. Probably one of the most controversial to many is the option of cutting services. Yet Metro seems to be holding this one option at arm’s length. It’s very much a hot-button topic for commuters, because no matter what Metro decides to cut (if at all this year), some people will be unhappy.

So let’s pretend you’re Catoe & Co: What services, routes or other Metro minutia would you cut in order to help bridge that gap? We’ll assume that the most obvious and best option – jurisdictional subsidy increases – isn’t viable and that Metro’s only option now is to cut down services and / or increase fares. What do you do? What’s most fair to you?

Photo courtesy of
‘Columbia Heights Metro Station’, courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

And to kick the ball onto the third rail, I’ll give my opinion first.

I’d increase fares – but not across the board. Jump the parking garage fees up by a dime, and then bump up off-peak train service by another dime. While fare hikes aren’t my favorite idea, selective fare hikes are a lot more palatable than a slathered across-the-board fare hike. Moreso than ignoring the issue altogether and then slamming down a greater hike next year, especially.

Additionally, closing a few station entrances – in those stations having more than one – a couple hours early and reducing train frequency after say, 9 p.m., would probably help alleviate enough to bridge the remaining gap after the targeted hikes.

I can’t really comment on what bus lines to drop / adjust, as I don’t really use the bus services with any regularity. But I know many of you out there do. What would you suggest?

Lay ’em out, readers. Maybe Metro will listen.

Having lived in the DC area for ten years, Ben still loves to wander the city with his wife, shooting lots of photos and exploring all the latest exhibits and galleries. A certified hockey fanatic, he spends some time debating the Washington Capitals club with friends – but everyone knows of his three decade love affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A professional writer, gamer, photographer, and Lego enthusiast, Ben remains captivated by DC and doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

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3 thoughts on “Talkin’ Transit: Stop-Gaps and Cuts

  1. I’m with you on increasing fares. Service cuts, of any kind, should be a last resort. While most people ride at rush hour, there are still thousands of riders at other times whose Metro needs are no less valuable. Because you’re not just cutting a bus line, you’re eliminating someone’s way home, or wat to way to work. That shouldn’t be taken lightly.

  2. As for bus lines, if they needed to cut back on any, I’d say some of the 30’s. They consolidated a bit back in January (or before then? Don’t remember) but considering the frequency of those buses, I think they could stand to limit them a little more, if it came to that.

    Also, increase frequency of the 42 and 64, because OH MY GOD. Especially the 64.

  3. defo increase the fares (a little) rather than cut services. Due to my job I frequently use the metro slightly after the evening rush hour ends (the 7-8:30 timeslot). Services are already frustratingly irregular at this time – which is still pretty busy. For me it would be worth a few pence (probably up to 50c) not to have to wait any longer!