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2018 WMATA budget proposal proves difficult for officials and riders alike

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Washington DC Metro

Washington DC Metro

Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz

Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz

Washington DC Metro

Maya Wilson

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WMATA’s Fiscal Year 2018 proposal includes metro and bus fare increase, route and position eliminations in efforts to close a $290 million gap. For the coming year, WMATA looks to fill this gap by raising the bus fare by 25 cents and the metro fare by 10-25 cents, as well as cutting business operation spending by eliminating 1000 positions, and reducing the frequency of all non-rush hour trains to once every 12-15 minutes.

General manager Paul J. Wiedefeld proposed a budget of $3.1 billion, money needed for “key safety, service and customer initiatives critical to reversing declining ridership and building a financially sustainable future for Metro,” according to the WMATA website. The dilemma is deciding what area needs money most; if WMATA doesn’t begin to have more of a financial turnover, the long term effects for the workers and the riders could be disastrous in terms of safety, as well as the frequency and abundance of transportation. However, that leaves officials to decide whether money should be moved from the capital budget, taking away from potentially critical repairs on the Metro, to the operating budget, which would decrease the service cutbacks.

Before the budget is adopted, the Metro board usually holds hearings to gauge public opinion. The proposed bus service cuts received significant push back at the public hearing on January 30.

“For my community, W19 is more than a bus; it is a necessity to be able to provide for their families and the only way they are able to travel back and forth to D.C. to work. That is why I am here today, to make sure families in my community don’t come upon hard times,” said Brandon Paulin, the mayor of Maryland town Indian Head, at the hearing. “Without this, our town could become less attractive and once again revert on the progress this town council and thousands of people in my town have started to build.”

This year, in DC, Metro proposes eliminating the DC-Dulles 5A route, the Wisconsin Ave limited service 37 route and the Fort Lincoln Shuttle B8 and B9. These routes are are considered plausible cuts due to their high rider subsidy, as well as alternative transportation services. WMATA also plans to extend the G9 route and restructure the Brookland-Fort Lincoln H6 as B8 and 9 alternatives and as a response to “ongoing dialogue with the community and District Department of Transportation”, according to WMATA’s website. The proposal also includes reducing the frequency of the 16th Street S2, S4 and S6.

While the cutbacks in DC do not seem too severe, bus service throughout Maryland and Virginia is being significantly decreased. In Maryland, WMATA is proposing the elimination of 14 different routes, including the P17, P18, P19, W13 and W14 which would leave no service alternative south of Oxon Hill Road to Fort Foote and Fort Washington, and south of Bock Road & St. Barnabas Road, to Friendly and Fort Washington Forest.

Meanwhile in Virginia, WMATA proposed the elimination of 21 bus routes, restructuring the Richmond express line Route Rex and the Leesburg Pike limited, the 28X.

IMAGE COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

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2018 WMATA budget proposal proves difficult for officials and riders alike