Metro moved closer Thursday to approving drastic budget cuts that would prompt the closure of 19 stations and eliminate weekend rail service.
The Metro board voted 6-2 in favor of the cuts, sending the proposal for public review. Vice chair Stephanie Gidigbi, who represents D.C. on the board, and Maryland representative Michael Goldman voted against the issue.
Goldman said Metro should wait until next month to go forward with the public comment, when what Congress intends to do may be clearer and there is more information on the implementation of the coronavirus vaccine.
Metro Board Chairman Paul Smedberg said that while there may not be a unanimous vote, “We are unanimous in feeling that this budget is unacceptable.”
Even with federal aid, the board still has a difficult decision to make, Smedberg said.
Several people left comments to the board, urging members not to cut service.
Kayla, from D.C., said that public transportation is not an option; it’s a necessity.
Other callers highlighted how the cuts will affect people’s jobs.
“How about people who work on the weekend? People who likely can’t afford or change their schedules. What are they going to do? Drive? With what car?” a Montgomery County resident said.
once more for the folks in the back of the [virtual] board room:
— WMATA Riders’ Advisory Council (@wmataRAC) December 10, 2020
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner called the cuts “devastating.”
“The federal government runs on WMATA. Frontline workers across our region rely on WMATA to provide essential services,” Warner said.
Under the proposal, Metrobus service would be reduced to about 45% of pre-pandemic levels. Weekend bus service would be increased to account for the lack of weekend rail service.
According to Metro’s budget proposal, the 19 stations that would close are:
- Arlington Cemetery
- Cleveland Park
- College Park
- East Falls Church
- Eisenhower Avenue
- Federal Center SW
- Federal Triangle
- Judiciary Square
- Morgan Boulevard
- Mt. Vernon Square
- Van Dorn Street
- Virginia Square
WTOP’s Jose Umana and Dick Uliano contributed to this report.