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Metro riders consider train lengths, service cuts

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.
-- Metro rider outlines travel concerns.

I've been publishing comments from riders and transit advocacy groups in advance of Wednesday's 5:30 p.m. Metro board hearing about how to close the current budget gap. Here are two more letters from riders.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I have been an Orange Line commuter since 1984. Proposals to lengthen time between trains and stop providing eight-car service is counter-productive as a budget "savings" approach. Cutbacks in service will punish the riders.

I would rather pay a higher fare -- even 25 cents -- if it meant longer trains, shorter waits, new equipment and increased maintenance. The Orange Line is so packed at rush hour that riders get sore ribs. Both the length of trains and frequency of trains need to be fixed before the new Silver Line stations open, as the inevitable dense real estate development near new stations is coming now.
Eric Donovan

Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Four six-car Metro trains equal three eight-car Metro trains minus one driver (same capacity, 25 percent labor savings, and the same electricity used). What gives with Metro's budget analysis?

In fact with regards to electricity, I ride between Union Station and Metro Center and Metro Center and Rosslyn. Trains are always coming to a halt in between stations during rush hour because they are right on top of each other. A huge waste of electricity due to Metro's cuing of short six-car trains. Does Metro even keep track of energy waste due to trains constantly stopping in the tunnels? As far as I can tell Metro's budget problems are directly related to Metro's mismanagement of the subway system.
John P. Hughes

Dr. G: I think the proposal to eliminate eight-car trains to save money on power and maintenance shouldn't even be on the table, because Metro made a public commitment to providing eight-car service at rush hour.

But that and most of the other proposed service cuts are unlikely to happen in this round, for lack of Metro board support. A fare surcharge and borrowing from the capital budget are much more likely, but that will depend on board politics: Support will be needed from board members representing all three jurisdictions, Maryland, Virginia and the District.

Metro leaders -- board and staff -- are well aware of the problems created when trains back up, and of the need to solve various train-moving problems before the new line to Dulles opens in the middle of the decade. But they haven't solved those problems yet.

One of the staff proposals would adjust the timing of trains on the Red Line, spacing them out more. It's partly to save money and partly to come up with a schedule that matches the reality of train travel times.

By Robert Thomson  |  January 27, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Metro , Transportation Politics , transit  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metro budget  
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Next: Metro riders group backs fare surcharge


It seems to me that Metro wouldn't be in this budget predicament if they weren't paying out (what will be) numerous settlements for the preventable accidents that killed riders and continue to kill employees.

Maybe they should look at safety as a cost saving measure for a number of reasons.

Posted by: Ellvee | January 27, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

How old is Metro? How many decades is it going to take to get them to manage everything properly? Our system is a total embarrassment to the nation's capitol.

Posted by: luvdc808 | January 27, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

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