Montgomery Co. battles to preserve Metrobus service

From left to right, Montgomery County Council members Evan Glass, Tom Hucker, Hans Reimer and Michael Goldman attend a transportation meeting on proposed Metrobus bus route cuts on March 2, 2020. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

Montgomery County, Maryland, residents voiced their opposition to a plan that would curtail Metrobus service in some areas, at a transportation committee meeting Monday night.

In its 2021 budget proposal, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority proposes cuts to four Metrobus routes that would collectively affect more than 65,000 county residents.

At the town hall-style meeting in Silver Spring, transportation and environment committee chair Tom Hucker warned the route changes would have “a severe negative impact” on riders.

“For us, buses aren’t so much as a convenience as they are a necessity to get to school, to get to jobs, to get to internships,” said Zoe Tishaev, a student at Clarksburg High School and a member of Action Committee for Transit.

“I’m immensely disappointed by the proposed cuts in service that this budget provides,” she told the panel.

Montgomery County Council member Evan Glass, a member of the transportation committee told the gathering that he believes Metro has long range plans to pull all its buses off suburban roads, limiting bus service to the city.

“What it seems like is WMATA wants to withdraw bus service from Fairfax, from Arlington, from Montgomery and from Prince George’s County, and it seems to me this proposed budget is proof of WMATA’s interest in long-term withdrawal, which would mean we would have to substitute with our own Ride On (bus) system,” Glass said.

People who addressed the panel repeatedly stressed that workers rely on Metrobus service, and would suffer from the cuts.

“If you take the routes off that line, people aren’t going to be able to get to work. These are working-class people, many of which are below poverty,” said David Helms, a representative of the Washington Area Bicyclists Association.

Metro’s proposed 2021 budget calls for eliminating some service on Q1, Q2, Q5 and Q6 Veirs Mill Road. Other reductions would come on routes Z2, Z6, Z8 and Z11.

Other routes slated for elimination are the B29, B30, C11, C13, C28, F12 and W14.

The Metro board is expected to make final budget decisions this April.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

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