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Share Thoughts on Possible Metro Service Cuts

Earlier today, Dr. Gridlock shared preliminary details of potential Metro service cuts ahead of a Thursday work session aimed at dealing with a projected budget shortfall.

What do you think of the proposals? Any of them sound reasonable? Got another idea? Or are they all bad ideas? Take the poll below, and share your thoughts in the comments.

By Washington Post Editors  |  February 19, 2009; 11:19 AM ET
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Next: Metro Board Wants More Options


1. Fire Catoe.

2. Bill Congress for operating expenses.

3. Find a way for volunteers to donate labor to capital and maintanence work. (I'd gladly give a Saturday to help with maintanence).

4. Expand Metro to Germantown.

5. Triple and Quadruple track the system.

6. Eliminate the garages at terminus points and replace with communities.

7. Move the garages from the terminus points farther away and run shuttles from garages to drop off points at centers of new communities. The property values alone will provide for new capital for expansion and duplicate farther out along expansion points. For example: Shady Grove...expand to downtown Gaithersburg...expand to Germantown. You create new dense communities along the way and recycle profits/rents.

8. Fire Catoe...he has no vision for the region.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | February 19, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

4. Expand Metro to Germantown.

5. Triple and Quadruple track the system.

How do you plan on paying for this? This is not some minor expense that a gas tax hike could cover.

Posted by: ArlingtonVA3 | February 19, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Please get rid of the dead wood personnel standing on the dupont circle station platform at 6:30am they often are 5 or 6 staff having their morning BS session. Also, elimate the G2 on the night routes. They often run with no one on them at night all night! What a waste of gas!

Posted by: bobby12320007 | February 19, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Instead of just closing station entrances and mezzanines, what about just making these entrances unstaffed? That way, the public still has access but they save having a station manager on duty at every entrance. Many NYC subway entrances are unstaffed and it seems to work fine (though they do have faregates that are harder to jump).

Posted by: nashpaul | February 19, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

How much does Metro spend each year on escalator repair? My suggestion is to not run the short escalators, such as the ones between the mezzanine and the platforms. They are broken a lot of the time anyway. Metro would save some money by not powering those escalators, and by not repairing them. Then, they can cut back on the number of maintenance employees as well.

Posted by: cainoo7x | February 19, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

RE: nashpaul

Good point. And the gate-jumping issue is at least partially mitigated by the fact that you need to use a farecard to both enter and exit the system (unlike NYC).

I've always thought Metro could both reduce its operating expenses and improve service by replacing shorter escalators with stairs, esp those between mezzanines and platforms. On the one hand, they would cut maintenance needs and power consumption for these escalators. On the other, maintenance staff could be more responsive to critical needs, like elevators and escalator repairs at deeper stations.

Posted by: jescowa | February 19, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

stop paying so much overtime.

Posted by: amie3 | February 19, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

1. Privatize Metro. Union and benefits are eating up most of the budget. Get rid of personnel not needed--I am sure there is plenty. Make employees pay a greater portion/co-payments of their health benefits.

2. Get rid of "mezanine" personnel. They are useless...See NY transit comments.

3. Make employees pay to use Metro--enough freebies!

4. Scrutinize budget with an outside accounting agency not related to Metro.

5. Outsource repairs personnel. You will save a bundle.

Posted by: rm1024 | February 19, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Don't waste money on upgrading the electronic signs. They are fine!

Charge parking on weekends.

Double the cost of a SmarTrip card. Actually charge money for paper farecards, since they are wasteful and less efficient than SmarTrip cards.

Increase the minimum fare by $.50

Posted by: Tony-Tony-Tony | February 19, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

For those who have commented to cut personnel should be ashamed. Today, I, one ot he faithful Metro employees who work and slave for this region has been layed off. There are so many other ways to provide service but there is just no thought that everyone in this region is responsible for this organization. not just the many who have been there for lots of years smiling, being abused and working long hours to provide service. So my advice is to stop with these comments on how they should cut and start sending out some letters to your Government agency who has planty of workers utilizing this system for a solution. if we can bail out wall street and high Executives then we should beable to save Metro.

Posted by: touchministry | February 19, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I have heard the pensions are one of the primary issues. If this is the case, fight the union. Also, like everyone mentions, cut the staff that are standing on platforms - Yes, I know the doors are closing. Do not reduce service as weekends and morning wait times already are horrible given that we have so few lines.

Posted by: BTdc | February 19, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if this meeting started late due to the horrific delays on metro today.

Posted by: 123cartoon | February 19, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Run four-car trains on nights and weekends on lines with the lowest ridership, but *without* increasing waiting time between trains. This should cut some electricity costs.

Posted by: kgwp | February 19, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

If they're going to run train less frequently, how about keeping to a published schedule? It's B-A-S-I-C Metro. Come on. Help your customers out.

Posted by: matt_hilburn | February 19, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

More ads - inside and outside cars, on station walls and floors, in parking lots, _everywhere_ possible. Metro's leaving a lot of potential ad $$$ on the table. -JW

Posted by: JWJr | February 19, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

When I read in yesterday's paper that the Metro stands to receive a windfall of $230M in stimulus money, and plans to use that money replacing buses and upgrading fare card vending machines, I threw up in my mouth a little. But then I smiled and laughed. WMATA is quite seriously and laughably the worst organization I have ever seen operate. Everyone has already given their laundry list of things that are wrong and how we could fix them, so I'll spare you mine. But really people. New fare card machines? Seems to me those machines are the only thing down there thaty actually WORKS as it's supposed to.

And yes, I'm including personnel. Nobody "deserves" a job, so instead of being arrogant, rude and not helpful, just provide a service and do so with a smile. If I was a member of your union I know I'd be smiling.

Don't even get me started on the fantastic amounts of money that go to MetroAccess. Nothing against the seniors out there, but do you really think 30%+ of operating budget should be spent getting about .5% of the population rides to and from the Metro?

This is worse than state politics, and dumber too.

Posted by: nocomment | February 19, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

For the person who honestly believes that we should feel honored that we have our jobs is very clueless to what it truly takes to provide customer service to this whole region. As I stated before in my comments, we are so fast to say that jobs should be cut. The only thing I see that is being created by your solution is you the tax payer paying additional benefits to take care of families that have been affected. more hungry people, more homeless, more people will be living in the streets of the area. The solution is that all jurisdictions need to take a responsibility for this system to include the upkeep and personnell issues. It is very sad that we make statements about tax dollars going to pay for wasted services but who cleans your buses after the majority destroys them? Who cleans the trains? Who provides you with a resolution to the very minute situations that come up. Lets just be real we all have played a role in the down turn of this organization. If we as the customer did not expect high class service from a mediocore system and require additional hours, rail and bus service and additional personnel to provide it then we would not have this problem. If you want to blame someone, blame your selves instead of the unionized employees who risk their lives on a day to day basis to provide you with the services you demand. Oh, by the way, when Metro does fix it's budgeting problems you will have something else to complain about. Drive!

Posted by: touchministry | February 19, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

-Charge non-SmarTrip bus users $1.50 rather than $1.35.
-Non-SmarTrip metro users pay an extra quater for short trips, possibly more for longer trips.
-Paper farecards cost $1.
-Charge a flat $2 fee to park at metro stations on weekends and holidays (you can't charge the regular price or people will not park there and not use the system).
-More Ads, riders do not have a problem with this, only metro board members do!

Posted by: GlenBurnie | February 19, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Metro service has already gotten worse. After 9 am in my neighborhood buses only run every 30 minutes (although this often turns into 45 minutes as the buses are never on time). The time between trains seems to keep getting longer. At 10 am (just after rush hour), should we have to wait 12 or 13 minutes for a train? And now they want to make this wait time even longer? They need to look at their bloated staffing levels first. I often see metro employees standing around and just talking to each other. Rarely do I encounter a helpful or friendly employee.

Posted by: lgp2 | February 19, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Well, for starters, if the listed stations are slow on weekends, why not just close them and bypass them altogether? I saw nothing about layoffs or reduced hours. My job just informed us that we all are now the proud owners of two extra weeks of unpaid vacation, that will be deducted from our paychecks (prorated) starting next month, METRO can do that. What METRO really needs to do is have a REAL town hall meeting, on a local TV network and have phone lines so that people can call in, instead of having meetings in locations that only the folks who live close by can get to. That’s what I think.

Posted by: 82AllAmericans | February 19, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Its really simple and I am sure its been said but if not here it is the Federal Government needs to chip in since most of metro user are federal government employees, chagre parking fees on Saturday, and with somewhere around 10,000 employees riding compeletly for free make the pay if not full fare a discounted fare

Posted by: JeroRobson1 | February 19, 2009 10:47 PM | Report abuse

@kgwp: 4-car trains are a terrible idea. They tried that already, and the outrage from them caused that little plan to last about two weeks. It won't happen again. Off-peak ridership is too high for 4-car trains to be practical.

In the same way, any reduction in rail frequency is ridiculous. It's bad enough that trains run as infrequently as they do now, but to increase that isn't going to save money. It's going to cost money as people start to switch their travel plans, and cut Metro out of them completely.

I happen to agree with raising the fares on people who don't use SmarTrip. Raising the base bus and off-peak rail fare to $1.50, and the base peak rail fare to $2.00 seems sensible to me. Oh, and there is zero reason why we don't charge for weekend parking. Even a small fee is cheaper than it costs to park downtown at any given time.

Posted by: pikamander007 | February 19, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

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