MTA riders raise concerns about proposed cuts to DC-bound bus routes

Just last year, Rebecca Hwa of Annapolis moved into a new home, choosing it partly due to its location. The bus was on the MTA 220 bus route, which runs from Maryland’s capital to D.C.’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood.

Now the George Washington University employee is concerned because that route is on the chopping block as the Maryland Department of Transportation tries to address a $3.1 billion budget deficit.

“We just committed to buying a house and everything, so this bus is really important to me,” Hwa told WTOP.

The route is one of eight that will be discontinued by the state if the plans are approved. Among those to be discontinued are:

  • 203 — Columbia to Bethesda
  • 220 — Annapolis to D.C.
  • 240 — Kent Island to D.C.
  • 260 — Severna Park and Davidsonville to D.C.
  • 410 — Churchville to Baltimore
  • 411 — Hickory to Hopkins Hospital/Baltimore
  • 810 — Pindell to D.C.
  • 850 — Prince Frederick/Dunkirk to Suitland/D.C.

Hwa, who doesn’t drive, said she understands bus ridership may be down as more people are working from home, but said those who still commute to an office shouldn’t be ignored.

“This is actually the only way I can get to work,” she said.

While other routes — including the 230 from Severna Park and Annapolis to D.C. — travel from Maryland’s capital to the District, they would add a lot more time to Hwa’s already long commute, she said.

Cora Dickson of Rock Hall, Maryland, moved to the town along the Eastern Shore from Dupont Circle in D.C. after her husband got a job there. For the lifelong federal worker, she said there were no work opportunities for her in the town, so she kept her D.C. job and uses one of the buses to go into the office when she needs to.

“Without the bus, yeah. I’d have to drive in, maybe take the Metro or I’ll have to find a hotel when I’m in the worst-case scenario,” she said.

One of the chief concerns for riders who spoke to WTOP are that remaining lines will only serve the Capitol Hill and Pennsylvania Avenue areas without stops for those who work along North Capitol Street, Massachusetts Avenue and the K Street corridor.

“K Street is important. It is the heart of the city, you know, so I don’t know why they would cut lines to K Street,” Dickson said.

Annapolis City Alderman Brooks Schandelmeier uses one of the lines to get to his day job in D.C. He said reducing service should come before cutting the routes.

“Cutting these routes is going to … put a pretty significant financial burden on the folks who still go in a couple times a week or even five days a week,” he said.

Hwa, Dickson, Schandelmeier and over 400 others signed on to a letter that was sent to the MTA that called for less drastic changes and offered suggestions such as reduced service on the routes slated for removal.

Veronica Battisti, a spokesperson for the MTA, told WTOP the proposed changes are in response to the “unprecedented structural financial deficit in state transportation funding.”

“Following the conclusion of the public hearings and public comment period, the agency will incorporate feedback received to determine a final plan for commuter bus service that will provide mobility options to residents within the current service area, prioritizes access to job centers and meets budgetary constraints,” Battisti said.

The department has held several hearings on the changes and, Battisti said, will accept public comment online through April 29.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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