Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
In the face of a nearly $500 million dollar deficit, Metro is effectively proposing to turn its rail system into a commuter rail. Perhaps worse than that because at least the MARC runs weekends.
The tri-jurisdictional transit agency is considering the following cuts for the next fiscal year, which begins in July 2021:
- Eliminating weekend rail service.
- Reducing rail service on weekdays, meaning 30-minute wait times.
- Ending rail service two hours earlier, at 9 p.m.
- Closing 19 stations. (Low ridership stations like East Falls Church and College Park are being considered.)
- Reducing Metrobus service from 60 routes to 41.
- Cutting 2,400 jobs on top of the 1,400 Metro is proposing to eliminate this year. (That represents about a third of the workforce.)
“[T]he Proposed FY2022 Budget preserves barebones service to sustain essential travel and to ensure the network is in place to serve regional recovery,” according to a presentation from Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld. He presents the proposal to the WMATA board on Friday, Dec. 4.
The draconian cuts are avoidable if Congress gets its act together and passes a coronavirus relief package that includes dollars for public transit. The American Public Transportation Association is telling federal lawmakers to provide at least $32 billion. The lame-duck Congress faces a Dec. 11 deadline to fund the federal government, and could include a stimulus deal. A bipartisan group of senators would include $40 billion to assist hard-hit transit agencies in their proposal.
“Regardless of party or ideology, we must once again come together to save Metro,” tweeted Mayor Muriel Bowser.
The cuts would come when there is a vaccine. (Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed, tells CNN it’s possible we reach herd immunity by May.) Right when the city’s economy could really start to recover, workers—particularly within the hospitality industry, among the hardest hit by the pandemic—would struggle to get around, as would customers. And students would struggle to get to school after wanting desperately to return to campus. Roughly half of students go to a school in the ward they reside in. So many would be impacted.
As the Post points out, this impacts the feds as well. “The federal government is also a Metro partner, but unlike MD, VA or DC, it doesn’t provide WMATA with any operating subsidies, just capital funding. Lawmakers such as [Virginia Representative] Gerry Connolly want the federal government to pitch in there. Federal workers are among Metro’s largest users,” tweeted transportation reporter Justin George.
Shook? Pissed off? The WMATA board will schedule public hearings and accept comments until February. A vote on the budget is scheduled for March. (Click HERE to leave a public comment.)
The blame falls to Congress, so activists and politicians are encouraging individuals to call their representatives. For my D.C. residents, try calling Maryland or Virginia members. (The umpteenth reason for D.C. statehood.)
City Paper wants to know what you miss and how you’ll know things are back to normal. Is it when you can see your grandmother? Or when you can return to the 9:30 Club? Be as detailed or vague as you’d like! Write us by replying to this newsletter or email me directly, and we will share with readers in a later newsletter.
—Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? email@example.com)
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that community organizations are an essential part of […]
- As of Dec. 1, D.C. reported 5 additional deaths related to COVID-19 and 133 new positive cases, bringing the total number of people to 685 and 21,685. The daily case rate and the test result turnaround time remains at Phase 0/1 levels. [EOM]
- D.C. launches a $10 million grant program to help some landlords forgive back rent. [WBJ]
- The price these local protesters paid. [WAMU]
By Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Criminal justice, unpaid taxes, greenhouse gases, and more on the table as the D.C. Council session winds down. [Post]
- One bill would require employers to rehire employees laid off during the public health emergency. [WUSA]
- Chairman Phil Mendelson spars with new leadership at the DC Chamber of Commerce over a tax cheat bill. [WBJ]
By Mitch Ryals (tips? email@example.com)
Laura Hayes is away from her desk. She’ll return on Thursday.
If asked to visualize a jazz club in the 1940s or ’50s, most people would […]
- Nothing is the same in this pandemic. Arts writing is no exception. [Post]
- The National Gallery of Art has acquired a bucolic Brueghel that you can see online. [Washingtonian]
- Mahogany Young, the daughter of Ramunda and Derrick Young of MahoganyBooks, has started a vegan candle business. [DCist]
By Emma Sarappo (tips? firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Without a bubble system like the NBA or NHL, the NFL has had several outbreaks of positive COVID-19 cases. The latest among the Baltimore Ravens has forced the league to reschedule the Washington Football Team’s game against the Steelers to Monday. [CBS Sports]
- The Maryland men’s basketball game against Towson scheduled for tonight has been canceled after a Towson support staff personnel tested positive for COVID-19. [Testudo Times]
- Who is Wizards rookie Deni Avdija? Get to know the 19-year-old basketball prodigy from Israel in this 2019 profile in Bleacher Report and this recent feature in the Post.
By Kelyn Soong (tips? email@example.com)