Metro rider outlines travel concerns
See other postings in this series on Metro's options:
-- Jim Graham: Tap capital budget.
-- Transit coalition asks Metro to avoid cuts.
-- Rider proposes targeted fare increase.
-- Smart Growthers back fare hike, borrowing.
A rider from the District shared testimony that he sent to the Metro board in advance of Wednesday's 5:30 p.m. board hearing on closing the current budget gap. Here's a portion of what he wrote, highlighting problems with late-night rail service:
"The proposal to cut service by $4 million is completely unacceptable. I often work late, so any increase in times between trains would be a serious inconvenience. . . .
"And there is also a serious safety issue associated with the proposal to reduce the frequency of evening Metro trains. On a recent Friday evening at 10 minutes of 11 o'clock, I attempted in vain to board a Red Line train at Gallery Place. The torrent of passengers exiting the train precluded this. Many passengers were stranded till the next train came along 20 minutes later -- by which time an equally huge crowd was waiting to board.
"With another 10 minutes between trains, I would not be surprised to see folks start brawling and some even falling onto the tracks. The overcrowding is serious even at a late hour. It is already risky and should not be exacerbated by increasing the waiting time still further.
"Among the specific proposals being discussed, the one to maintain service and increase fares by 10 cents is the least problematic. Personally I would prefer to see a 20 cent increase with associated service improvements such as eight-car trains and reduced waiting times."
Dr. G: Some board members did want the public to consider the option of a fare surcharge up to 20 cents a ride, but the D.C. representatives would vote only for the 10-cent surcharge option.
Board members don't want to do the service cuts. If they did, they could have accepted the plan offered on Jan. 7 by General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. Instead, they came up with four options -- combining service cuts, a fare surcharge and borrowing from the capital budget -- and presented them to the public for comment. After tonight's hearing, the board can do whatever combining of these elements it wants to, as long as the combination wins the support of representatives from Maryland, Virginia and the District.
Letters I've received from riders are pretty consistent: They say service is poor enough now, whether its at peak or off-peak. They'd rather pay more than see service deteriorate further. Metro officials say they haven't cut service, but to many riders it sure feels that way, despite the decline in ridership over the past year.
January 27, 2010; 10:26 AM ET
Categories: Metro | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metro budget
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