Metro committee approves service cuts, fare hikes

WASHINGTON — Metro’s Finance Committee approved fare increases and service cuts Thursday and advanced the transit agency’s budget to the full board.

The committee also restored some bus service in D.C., Maryland and Virginia that had been slated to be cut.

The plan would reduce rush-hour service. Trains would leave the end of the lines every eight minutes rather than every six minutes that current train schedules call for. It would also raise rush-hour fares by 10 cents and off-peak fares by 25 cents.

In addition, the service change would increase scheduled rush-hour service on the Blue Line from every 12 minutes today to every eight minutes by cutting the Yellow Line “Rush Plus” service between Franconia-Springfield and Greenbelt.

The changes would raise bus fares by 25 cents.

A final budget vote by the Metro Board is expected March 23. If the board approves the plan, the fare hikes — which would begin around July 1 — would be Metro’s first fare increase in three years.

A number of transit advocacy groups worry that the combination of fare increases and service cuts could cut people off from crucial transportation and dissuade other riders from using the system.

“While we understand the fiscal crisis the agency faces, and the General Manager’s intention to close the gap by sharing the burden between staff, riders, and jurisdictions, further fare hikes and service cuts will only exacerbate ridership declines and financial challenges,” wrote Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth’s executive director, in a letter to the Metro Board last month.

“We urge the Board and leaders in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia to come together and close 100 percent of Metro’s operating gap with jurisdictional funding.”

And Metro’s largest union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, said in a statement that the budget plan and the risk of additional cuts next year illustrate the need for a new regional, dedicated funding source for Metro.

“We stand with the riding public and continue to encourage the leadership at WMATA to reject this death spiral budget,” the union said.

The union and Metro have been squaring off in contract talks, which have spilled out into vocal public disputes since late last year.

Theses bus route changes were included in the budget plan the committee passed on Thursday:

Airport bus fares for the B30 and 5A would rise to $7.50 (other bus fares would still rise 25 cents rather than 50 cents).

In D.C., no bus routes would be eliminated or changed.

In Maryland, the C11 and C13 Clinton routes would run less often. The B30 to BWI-Marshall Airport would only run once an hour and only on weekdays.

The J5 bus between Silver Spring and Twinbrook would be eliminated. The H11, H12 and H13 between Marlow Heights and Temple Hills would run less often.

The J7 and J9 I-270 Express Lines would continue until October 2017. The T2 River Road line would run less often. The W19 Indian Head Express would be eliminated.

The P17, P18 and P19 Oxon Hill-Fort Washington lines and the W13 and W14 Bock Road lines would now end at the Southern Avenue Metro Station. The Z7 Laurel-Burtonsville Express would run less frequently.

In Virginia, routes 18R and 18S would be eliminated, but some service would be added to Route 18P to Burke Centre.

Route 28X would be eliminated, but some service would be added on Route 28A, which also travels Leesburg Pike.

Route 15K and 15L would serve East Falls Church, not Rosslyn Metro.

The Route 5A bus to Dulles International Airport would run less frequently. Route 7X would be eliminated, but some service would be added between Lincolnia and Pentagon on route 7W. Route 13Y service between Reagan National Airport and Union Station on weekend mornings would be eliminated.

Route 2T between Tysons Corner and Dunn Loring would be eliminated. Routes 17A and 17F to Kings Park would be eliminated with some additional service on a newly truncated route 17B (Route 17M would also remain in service).

Richmond Highway Express REX buses would run less frequently, but on an extended route. And the 2B Fair Oaks-Jermantown Road Line would run less frequently at rush hour.

Bus service changes removed from the budget plan:

In Maryland, the J1, J2, J3 Bethesda-Silver Spring line would remain in service as would the C8 College Park-White Flint Line and the F1 and F2 Chillum Road Line and the T14 Rhode Island Avenue-New Carrollton Line.

In Virginia, Route 3T in Pimmit Hills would remain in service, Route 1C Fair Oaks-Fairfax Boulevard Line would remain in service, as would the 16X Columbia Pike-Federal Triangle express route. Routes 16G, 16H and 16K would also maintain full service levels.

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