Metro Riders Respond on Service Cuts
The Metro Board is going to meet again on Thursday morning to discuss proposals to balance its next budget, including ideas on service cuts. The board members were going back to their individual jurisdictions -- the ones that provide the subsidies that account for a large part of Metro's revenue -- to ask what service cuts they'd tolerate, or alternatively, how much more they could pay.
I think some of the proposals are reasonable: Close one station entrance during off-peak hours? That would be an efficient cost saving. But eliminating some bus routes and increasnig the gaps between arrival times on buses and trains? That's going to affect many thousands of riders and is a bad hit to take.
Readers generally don't want to play along with the idea of endorsing service cuts. Here are some of the many opinions we've received:
As someone who depended on Metro rail for over 20 years to get to work, and now depends on Metro for access to the city after my recent retirement, I have a good perspective on usage cutbacks to save some money.
The trains need to run as close to 24/7 as possible. That said, station and entrance closures at work stations should be the norm during non-commuting peaks. That's always been the case in New York. Weekend parking fees at a reduced rate should be implemented. Yellow Line trains to Greenbelt should not run weekends. (My home station is College Park, so this would affect me.)
If the numbers are similar, stop some of the end-of the line trains in Virginia as well. If you do these, hopefully Metro can avoid lessening frequency during off-hours. That should be a last resort.
Regarding cost cutting, the first step would be to fire the Metro staff that proposed closing Metrorail at 10 p.m. and increasing the interval between trains on Saturday and Sunday. The proposals would severly damage the regions' economy (in particular the ability of employees to get to and from work, late evening entertainment and tourism).
Weekend trains are frequently jammed now. Decreasing service would effectively shut down reliable service as riders would not know if there would be space aboard the infrequent trains.
Another dumb proposal is to "close some low-usage Metro stations on weekends." What Metro is saying here is that riders can no longer rely on Metro and must arrange alternate transportation, such as the purchase and use of a vehicle.
Think of the additional congestion and pollution that would result! When the real funding gap is finally developed and legitimate cost cutting accepted funds should be raised from two sources: local jurisdictions where everyone (Metro rider or not) benefits from Metro service and from fares. What ever Metro does it must not slash service in the face of increasing ridership.
Don't cut services. Cut wages and salaries:
Earning below $50,000: Cut 5 percent
Earning $50 - $99,999: Cut 12 percent
Earning $100,000 - $160,000: Cut 17 percent
Everyone else: Cut 24 percent
If a position truly isn't needed eliminate it, but otherwise I'd rather see people working than out of a job and services cut for those of us who depend on public transportation. Also when jobs aare eliminated, if the work was necessary, those who remain have to pick it up, resulting in overtime (could lead to increased expense for overtime for non-exempt employees) , added stress, loss of quality of life, etc.
This worked at the Dallas Public Library a few years ago, and when the economy improved, salaries and wages went back up.
Why does Metro not sell more advertising space, like all other train systems in the world do? There are so few advertisements in trains and stations. What a wasted source of potential revenue.
Metro should sell advertising space:
- On paper farecards, front and back
- Throughout the inside of trains
- On the outside trains
- On station walls and floors
. . . and not just now and then, or on a few trains, or on a few billboard spaces in a few stations.
The sale of advertising space should be an integral part of raising revenue for metro.
Otherwise -- if fares increase and services decrease -- people will just get in their cars instead of using public transportation. That is not a good strategy for building a vibrant, accessible nation's capital area.
We'll have more. A few things NOT to worry about: Metro isn't going to shut the rail system early or close down an entire station. The cuts I mentioned above involving station entrance closures and reduced bus and rail service, are very likely the most severe cuts the Metro board will consider. On the money raising side, the board might consider charging for parking on weekends, but that idea is likely to be blocked by suburban jurisdictions.
If you'd like to contact the Metro Board of Directors directly, use this e-mail address:
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