Metro Board to Review Rider Pleas
The Metro board members on Thursday morning are going to listen to the staff recap what was said during public hearings on the proposed cuts in bus service, the cuts designed to bring the transit authority budget into balance for the next year.
People didn't go to these hearings to say, "Hey, I don't need my bus," just as they don't go to a highway hearing to say, "Hey, take my front lawn." So nobody was looking for surprises. Metro officials and some regional leaders, particularly those from Maryland, where most of the cuts would occur, expected to take a pounding. And they did.
The turnout wasn't overwhelming. In fact, politicians surveying the scene might have concluded that they had pulled this one off. But the testimony did reveal support for use of federal stimulus money, or other one-shot revenue injects, to avoid the budget cuts. That wasn't a shocker; people faced with losing their primary way of getting to work or to a doctor aren't that worried about how Metro will balance its budget next year.
A little more surprising was the support for a nickel increase in the bus fare, if that would negate the service cuts.
Here's a quick sampler drawn from many hours of testimony recorded by the Metro board.
Catherine Taggart-Ross, Maryland: Life in a community is meant to be shared equally and equitably by all. Our public transportation system must serve all, including those who are unable to drive, due to income, disability, age, or other reasons. . . . Do not cut services that will create a hardship for minorities, the elderly riders, and those most in need. . . . It's not my bus and it may not be your bus, but it's somebody's bus.
Josh Silver, Bethesda: A lot of bus service in communities of color are being cut and we urge you to restore this critical service, service between P.G. County and Montgomery County going east and west. ... Now I am not fan of fare hikes, but I'd rather my fare go up by five cents than watch these drastic service cuts take place.
Pree Glenn-Graves, Fort Washington: I would hope that you all can look back at your budgets, think about the elderly, think about the disabled citizens. Think about the people who have been dependent on this as the gentleman said before me, this is a lot of people's car. This is how they get to these jobs.
James Circello, Washington: When you take these buses, you're taking people's lives. These people are dependent on these buses. They don't have a car like you or the opportunity to take the rail into work. They need these buses.
The board, and the regional governments that support Metro, are down to a few basic choices, after months of debate. We'll be at the Thursday meeting at Metro headquarters in downtown Washington, so look for updates here on Get There. And look for more voices of the riders on The Post's Commuter page this Sunday.
April 29, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
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