Metro to be open until 1 a.m. on weekends under staff proposal

WASHINGTON — Metro would close at 1 a.m. on weekends and 11:30 p.m. on weeknights if the Metro Board approves final staff recommendations that were revealed Monday.

The recommended proposal would also see the system cut back two hours of service on Sundays to open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Metro staff say a review would be done next year of whether the cuts should continue beyond July 2019. The cuts, if approved, would take effect next summer.

Metro staff say the cuts would have a disproportionate impact on minority and low-income riders, but that the option was the most supported out of those Metro provided. Metro’s online survey did not have an option for “none of the above.”

Metro received more than 16,000 comments on the service cut proposals that General Manager Paul Wiedefeld argues are needed to provide adequate time for basic maintenance and inspection.

All riders and community groups who spoke at the public hearing on the issue opposed any service cuts and urged more evening single-tracking or specific line segment shutdowns instead.

Metro staff recommend adding some limited bus service after the system closes on Friday and Saturday nights at an estimated cost of about $2 million per year. That funding is not included in Wiedefeld’s proposed budget, even though the projected $2.55 million in savings from the hours cuts is included. The estimated savings is based on a $6.84 million drop in spending, with the system open fewer hours combined with a loss of $4.3 million in fares due to 1.5 million fewer trips than otherwise expected each year.

Today, Metro’s official hours are 5 a.m. to 12 a.m. Monday to Thursday, 5 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday.

Wiedefeld made a so-called temporary change in June to close the system at midnight every day. The public board votes expected in the next two weeks are required by federal civil rights laws for any change that lasts more than one year.

D.C. divided

While Maryland and Virginia Metro Board members have expressed support for Wiedefeld’s hours-cut proposals, the District’s board members have opposed the changes, especially any cuts to late-night service on Fridays and Saturdays.

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office on Monday said in a statement that her position has not changed.

“As the nation’s capital and home to over 670,000 residents, we need a Metro system that works for everyone — residents, workers, employers, and visitors. That means having a Metro that stays open late as the region continues to grow. The staff recommendation falls far short of what we owe all riders: a safe, reliable system that meets their needs,” a statement from Bowser Communications Director Kevin Harris said.

Metro Board Chair Jack Evans’ office, however, indicated that he may reluctantly support a temporary hours change.

Evans’ spokesman Thomas Lipinsky said Evans wants to limit any change in hours to only one additional year.

Lipinsky said Evans does not expect to exercise a so-called jurisdictional veto on the changes, which can be done when both voting board members from a jurisdiction agree.

Evans and Bowser are expected to discuss the issue with the full D.C. Council Tuesday morning ahead of Thursday’s Metro Board committee vote. That vote is expected to advance the hours cut plan to a full final vote two weeks later.

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