Riders comment on Metro plans
Many riders let us know how they thought the transit authority should solve its budget crisis. We invited their comments on Sunday's Commuter page, which showed the enormous range of proposals up for debate at the six hearings starting Monday.
Letter writers generally preferred to pay more in fares if that meant avoiding or limiting service cuts. None said that service was adequate now. Many want to see more internal cost cutting, without affecting service. That is part of Metro's plan, and it's certainly something people can comment on at the hearings.
Here's a sampler of the opinions we received.
Raise fares, improve service
While no one really likes to pay more for anything, I think that most Metro fares are low and really should be increased. Recent travels have taken me to Boston, San Francisco, and Oakland where the standard bus and streetcar fares are $2. BART in from the airport also seems to be more expensive on a mileage basis.
I can see paying more for the bus from Greenbelt to BWI Marshall Airport, because it is a nonstop express and the buses are designed to handle luggage.
However, the bus to Dulles is neither. It has no space for luggage, it makes multiple stops along the way, and it is packed during the morning and evening commutes. Using it often is an unpleasant experience. The quality and frequency of the service needs to be improved if the price is to be increased, while at the same time low-income workers at Dulles who use the service need to be protected, perhaps with a special monthly discount ticket.
-- Bob Roehr
Service cuts unacceptable
Trains must be more frequent than every 19 minutes at night and on the weekend.That is beyond the minimum level of service I expect from a subway.
I can deal with Metro's lousy employees if I can get reliable, frequent service. Everything else is frosting on the cake.
I signed a two-year lease in Silver Spring, relying on Metro to be there for me during that tenure. It has not. I will likely be moving into the city as soon as my lease expires.
-- Jared Hautamaki
Service top priority
It has always been my contention that it is far better to increase fares than to cut service. Raise the fares to whatever level it takes to cover the costs, but leave the service intact.
There are many people, especially in the District and close-in suburbs, who don't own cars. If you take away their buses, how are they going to get to work? Will some of them have to quit their jobs and become unemployed in an already-terrible economy? I'm sure anyone in that position would prefer to pay more in order to keep his job.
I lived in the D.C. area for 50 years, so I know what things are like up there. These days, I'm reluctant to even visit there, due to the traffic.
-- Tom Hoffman
Metro should look inside
Here's what's important to me:
-- that the concerns of our neediest riders -- economically and physically -- are championed;
-- that the governing board's actions, votes, and donor roll are scrutinized for potential conflicts of interest by the Washington Post;
-- that safety measures are enhanced -- the status quo is abysmal;
-- that labor costs be cut through a RIF [reduction in force];
-- that the computers be put back in control of the train-driving systems to reduce transit time while increasing rider comfort and safety;
-- that all board members be required to commute via Metro during peak hours at least once a week;
-- that additional federal dollars be sought, as the city cannot function without its mass transit system -- or provide infrastructure to support each if its riders taking single-passenger means to the office, school, house of worship, etc.
-- that cutting services not be an option. Instead, identify and reduce waste, project capital needs for the next 10 years, and amortize the real cost to be fully functional. Make up for the shortfall by increasing parking-violation fees and speeding tickets, while taxing commuters who drive in the city back to the stone age.
-- Wilson Fontaine DuBois
Metro needs financial help
My first choice is that all local governments step up to the plate and fund their fair shares of the burden, but I doubt there's any traction for that option these days.
-- Karin Lynn
One rider asked how to get a statement directly to Metro. Here's what Metro says:
Written statements and exhibits may be sent to the Office of the Secretary, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 600 Fifth St. NW., Washington, D.C. 20001, or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions must be received by 5 p.m., April 6.
And please keep your comments coming to us. You can write to me at email@example.com in addition to commenting here on the blog.
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