Metro Board Wants More Options
When you look at the list of potential service cuts that the Metro staff unveiled this morning, think of what you're not seeing: There's no proposal to shut down the rail system early end bus service along a particular corridor -- none of the very drastic possibilities that have been the subject of speculation.
Instead, the staff presented ideas for widespread, but relatively low-impact reductions, at least compared with some of the speculation. If you're a transit user, that's no reason to let your guard down. When you look at the full list, you may see it as death by a thousand cuts, and some of the individual cuts are still pretty painful.
Metro board members, assembled for a work session on the budget problem this morning, asked the transit authority staff to come back with more for them to work with, after a first look at the service cut possibilities the staff just presented. (See the list in previous entry.)
No decisions about cuts were made today.
The board members are reluctant to approve any service cuts, but know they must have a list of possibilities soon, so they can take that plan to public hearings across the region. The staff says that service cuts would have to take effect by the end of June for the savings to have the full effect on the fiscal 2010 budget, which takes effect July 1.
They raised many questions about the list. Among them: They don't like the term "duplicate service" in a category covering potential cuts in bus service across the region. Board member Chris Zimmerman said that if you have a crowded train underground and a crowded bus above,you don't have duplicate service.
They also want to know in more detail about the impact of cuts, and the resulting savings, on their jurisdictions.
Board member Jim Graham of the District wants to know about more options, such as how much money Metro could raise by increasing parking fees on weekends. He noted that The Post ran a list of potential budget adjustments on its Commuter page on Sunday and asked for public comment. He said he wished that we had included more options for people to consider.
Board member Chris Zimmerman of Arlington said his trip to the Metro headquarters in downtown Washington included a ride on the Columbia Heights-Pentagon City bus line. He called it the most heavily used route in the Commonwealth of Virginia. And he noted the 16G, H and W buses on that line are on the list for reduced service during peak periods.
Metro, he said, needs to look at the overall impact of its suggested cuts.
"This is exactly how public transit declined in America for half a century," he said. As transit agencies gave their riders less, they rode less.
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