Metro committee advances plan to shorten service day

WASHINGTON — A Metro board committee approved a plan Thursday that would cut service hours for the next two years — a proposal that the ailing transit agency’s top official said would mean years more of deferred maintenance and crumbling infrastructure.

The service cuts face the threat of a veto when the full board votes on the measure in two weeks from members representing D.C. — they will only go along with the cuts if they sunset in mid 2018.

The Customer Service, Operations and Security Committee approved Metro staff recommendations to close the rail system at 1 a.m. on weekend nights, 11:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Sundays. The system would also open one hour later on Sunday mornings at 8 a.m.

The committee approved the changes to begin in July 2017 and run through the end of June 2019, with an eye toward reviewing any changes beyond that after seeing how the changes to the service hours play out.

The committee also approved some additional late night bus service on weekends after 1 a.m., but that proposal was somewhat scaled back from the original proposal presented before a public hearing in October.

Metro Board Chairman and D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans said that the District would exercise its right to a jurisdictional veto over the service hour reductions unless they end automatically in 2018.

Evans argued that D.C. has already compromised by even accepting one year of temporary service cuts.

The committee rejected amendments that would have required Metro staff to justify the service cuts in a year.

Board member and federal safety expert Bob Lauby, however, opposed even a two-year sunset clause out of concern that the Metro board would fail to provide continued additional maintenance time if needed.

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