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Metro may cut some rail and bus service

Crowded trains and buses are likely to get more crowded if the budget-balancing recommendations of General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. are approved by the Metro board on Jan. 7

Riders would not have eight car trains. The peak period turnbacks at Grosvenor on the Red Line would be eliminated.

These are some key elements of a plan unveiled Thursday afternoon to deal with what now amounts to a $40 million shortfall in the current Metro budget.

What went wrong: "We overestimated the ridership for this year," Catoe said.

The revenue impact is greater on the rail side, even though the decline is less there than on bus. It costs more to ride the trains.

The service changes, if made, would account for less than 10 percent of the total shortfall. The bigger impact of the recommendations comes in delaying preventive maintenance.

Among the potential service cuts:
-- Hours of the customer call center would be reduced to save $200,000.
-- Bus and rail service reductions would save about $4 million.

The cuts would involve a lengthening of the time between trains and buses. It might be a minute on the trains at rush hour. It might be five or 10 at off peak periods weekdays and on weekends.

The earliest the service cuts could start would be late January, more likely February. They would likely be in effect through the end of Metro's fiscal year in June. The financial situation for the year that starts in July already was known to be bad. Metro anticipates a $175 million budget gap for that year.

Eliminating eight-car trains would not change the stopping point on the platforms. The trains still would go to the front of the platforms, a safety policy instituted this summer when Metro put the trains under the control of their operators rather than the automated train control system.

By Robert Thomson  |  December 17, 2009; 2:18 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metrobus, Metrorail  
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Metro's "service" is already appalling. From sardine-can-like travels to unexplainable "backups going into Silver Spring" to huge gaps between trains during the tail-end of rush hour, it seems to get worse by the day. And now Metro wants to cut service even more, to save a measly $4 million?

The examples given above are almost surreal. No more eight-car trains? No more turn-backs on the Red Line at peak? I don't usually start crowing about how Metro is going to push more people out of the system and into their cars, but moves like these will certainly do that.

No one wants to use a system that requires them to be smashed into dangerously overcrowded cars and to miss their bus or other connections because of unrealistic gaps between trains.

I guess the main message Catoe is sending us Metro riders is, "You think service is bad NOW? HA! Just wait 'til you see what we have in store for you next year!"

Posted by: brimadison | December 17, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Hey Dr. G, why are there attendents in the booth at the exits to metro parking garages? With the change to requiring a smart trip card to pay for parking and exit the garage it seems rediculous that you would still have a person physically there. What do they do?

I saw an attendent at the Glenmont Garage yesterday around 5pm who allowed some person to leave without having a smart trip card (because they didn't know). She merely swiped something to allow the gate to go up. Seems like you could cut some expenses by eliminating those positions.

Posted by: UMDTerpsGirl | December 17, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Why bother with weekend service at all? if they're going to add 15 more minutes to the gap that's at most 2 trains an hour, maybe one. Just shut down completely nad save us all the hassel.

And why drop the 8 car trains? Aren't the 8 car runs always packed?

Posted by: EricS2 | December 17, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I saw an attendent at the Glenmont Garage yesterday around 5pm who allowed some person to leave without having a smart trip card (because they didn't know). She merely swiped something to allow the gate to go up. Seems like you could cut some expenses by eliminating those positions.

I totally agree. In addition, take the Farragut North metro to go to UDC and if Metro decides toc ut 8-car trains on the red line during rush hour, then I am taking the L2 (if Metro does not cut that, too!). If Metro wants increased ridership, then it must increase safety.

Posted by: phenomena1 | December 17, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

great, let's solve the budget shortfall by making metro an even LESS attractive option, causing more people to bail.

you know why ridership on the trains is down? b/c 11 ppl DIED on/because of metrorail this year. fix the safety issues, IMPROVE (not cut) service, and clean up the rail cars, and you might get more riders again.

i'm not looking forward to cramming into a 6 car green line train to get home next year. :-(

Posted by: taupecat | December 17, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Oh yes, let's lengthen the wait between weekend trains from 20 minutes to 30 minutes!

Should I wait for a blue line train, metro from Pentagon City to Rosslyn, wait another 20 minutes for an orange line train, and then metro out to Clarendon? Or should I just drive, which takes less than 10 minutes, and park for free? Hmm......

Posted by: ls00221 | December 17, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I much rather pay higher fares than have train service cut. Closing some stations makes sense, but the late night service from 20 min waits to 30 min is really outrageous and the metro board needs to reject it.

Posted by: JG55 | December 17, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Late night service is already ridiculous. What happened to trains being every 15 minutes? If Baltimore's craptastic "subway" cam manage 10 minute headways at nights and on weekends, why can't Metro?

Posted by: pikamander007 | December 18, 2009 1:17 AM | Report abuse

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