Metrobus connection to BWI Marshall, others could get chopped

WASHINGTON — As thousands of people rush to the airport for Thanksgiving trips, a key regional connection is on the chopping block.

The B30 Metrobus from the Greenbelt Metro Station to BWI Marshall Airport carries an average of about 370 people a day, with more on busy travel days. It is among the lines Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld proposed cutting by next summer, since Metro’s internal calculations show the regional subsidy is about $9.14 per rider. That is among the highest of any Metrobus route, even though riders cover more than 40 percent of the route’s costs.

Steve Williams, vice president of Teamsters Local 922, told the Metro board last week that the cuts to a number of bus routes, including the B30, would be “devastating” to communities who rely on them every day.

“[It] connects airline passengers, and, more importantly, employees to BWI. Many of the passengers on this line rely on public transportation to get to work, which is critical to livelihoods,” he said.

Dozens of union members packed the meeting; Metro’s largest union is in the midst of contract talks.

The budget proposal was not on the agenda last week, but the Metro board is due next month to set public hearings on the proposal. The official feedback period is expected to start in January.

In addition to ending the B30, the budget proposes increasing scheduled wait times at all times of day for rail riders, canceling the 13Y early morning weekend bus to Reagan National Airport and cutting a number of other lines, including the W13, W14, W19 P17, P18 and P19 lines in Maryland, the 37 limited-stop bus in D.C. and several routes in Virginia.

bus cuts
The B30 Metrobus connection to BWI Marshall Airport is on the chopping block, along with many other bus routes. (Courtesy WMATA)

 

The Metro board is expected to vote around March on the cuts and proposed across-the-board fare hikes, which could include changes from the initial proposal.

In the past, Metro has come close to cutting the 5A route to Dulles International Airport, only to see it saved at the last minute.

Getting to and from the airport this weekend

With roads typically clogged around the Thanksgiving holiday, buses and trains remain an option to reach the region’s airports and Union Station this weekend.

Travelers flying through BWI Marshall have several options besides driving. In addition to the B30 bus from the Greenbelt Metro, MARC Penn Line trains stop at the airport’s rail station, where riders can switch to a shuttle bus to the terminal. There are no MARC trains on Thanksgiving Day; trains run on a reduced “R” schedule on Friday. Regular weekend Penn Line service is scheduled Saturday and Sunday.

For those flying in or out of Dulles, the 5A Metrobus stops just outside baggage claim with stops at Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride, Rosslyn and L’Enfant Plaza. It runs once an hour on Sundays and more often at certain times on weekdays. To reach Dulles on the train, take the Silver Line to Wiehle-Reston East, then go down into the bus loop to catch the Fairfax Connector 981 or 983 (base fare $1.75; $1.25 if transferring from Metrorail). There is also a $5 Washington Flyer bus service available.

At Reagan National, Metrorail is the main transit option to avoid the clogged airport roadways. It is possible to walk about a mile to Crystal City for shorter trips.

On Metro Tuesday, riders face the final day of a weeks-long Red Line shutdown between Fort Totten and NoMa-Gallaudet that also includes reduced service on the rest of the Red Line. Since that could add to crowding on a busy day at Union Station, alternatives such as bus routes that serve the station may be worth considering.

There is no round-the-clock work scheduled Wednesday or on Thanksgiving Day, but there is track work beginning at 10 p.m. Wednesday that could impact late-arriving Thanksgiving travelers.

From 10 p.m. to closing Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the Silver Line will only run between Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston as the Orange and Blue lines single-track downtown.

On Thanksgiving, Metro buses and trains run on a Sunday schedule, with off-peak fares all day and free parking at Metro garages. On Friday, Metro runs on a regular weekday schedule including peak fares and regular parking charges.

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