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Metro Seeks Input on Proposed Weekend Rail Cuts

by ARLnow.com May 17, 2011 at 10:22 am 3,245 88 Comments

WMATA will hold a public hearing on proposed service cuts at the Arlington County Board Room (2100 Clarendon Blvd) on Wednesday.

In addition to cuts to several bus lines in Maryland and the District, WMATA is proposing scaling back weekend rail service.

Train “headways” would increase from 12 minutes to 18 minutes until 9:30 p.m. on Saturdays. On Sundays, headways will increase from 15 minutes to 20 minutes before 9:30 p.m. After 9:30 p.m. on both days, you’ll have to wait 25 minutes between trains.

The meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow with an “open house,” followed by a “town hall meeting” at 6:00 p.m. and a public hearing at 6:45 p.m. The meeting is one of six being held around the region this week.

  • Aaron

    With 25 minutes headways, you as might as well add a few drunken driving fatalities.

    People will definitely move to their cars. WMATA is so mismanaged and just such a joke at this point. It’s why I drive everywhere. It’s usually quicker and cheaper.

    • Aaron

      ps when I was in Europe recently, never once did I wait more than 5 minutes for a subway train in 5 cities. This includes during the day, weekend and night.

      • CW

        Shhhh….they even have inter-city rail too, but don’t tell anyone! Things like that require collecting “revenue” from citizens (don’t use the dirty T-word, you might upset some people) and require governments (gasp) to make large-scale investments in infrastructure. I’d better stop before I awaken the trolls.

        • dynaroo

          CW, you know Americans are supposed to have everything them Europeans have, but without actually paying for it.

      • Cate

        Amen to that. When I lived in London I never had to wait long for a train – hell, a 5 minute delay was considered “severe” on the Tube.

        Even in Boston I don’t think I ever had to wait that long for the T, not once – even the Green Line, which is notoriously unreliable.

      • novasteve

        Uh, I had very long waits in Germany, especially at nights on weekends. I don’t know about 25 minutes though, but it was a lot more t han 5 minutes.

      • wat

        Did the cities you visited have more than 2 tracks? this is a big limitation of our metro system.

        • G

          Good point. Two tracks allow for express service.

        • Burger

          and 15 million people in a much more densily packed area. those makea difference, too.

      • KalashniKEV

        My old company manages a lot of the European metro lines, especially in Capital cities. If they contracted out the metro, there would be an INSTANT (~2 weeks) dramatic change accompanied by a huge cost savings. Almost all incumbent employees would likely be on the street though. It’s a Jobs Program.

        • dynaroo

          We know you’re all talk as usual, but let’s take a serious look at that – labor is much stronger in Europe, yet somehow their systems are better, not worse. Hmmm.

      • NoVapologist

        Comparing Europe and the US on mass transit is apples and oranges. Not only are their cities more densely populated, government policies are geared toward discouraging automobile ownership and use (cars taxed as luxury goods; gas prices $8-$9/gal; London’s “congestion pricing”). Car ownership in Europe is less than half that of the U.S.

        • KalashniKEV

          I’m not saying Europe doesn’t suck, but if we looked at DC Metro as a transit system rather than a jobs program and got serious about VALUE to the government and performance vs cost then there’s no reason why it couldn’t be better vastly better for less $.

          • rider

            Can you give us some details about why you think it’s treated as a jobs program and could do more with less? Which staff are unnecessary and how many are there?

          • KalashniKEV

            Do I need to list the number of disasters and fatalities that have occurred over the last few years? Some are very recent. Are the employees at the stations helpful at all, aware of what they do, or why they’re even there? They’re completely unqualified and incompetent… their corrupt union boss even dropped a “slavery” card in the protection of incompetent employees. Disgusting…

          • rider

            This is your argument? Really?

          • KalashniKEV

            Yeah. I want standards and discipline. Accountability. Normal stuff…

          • rider

            We all want that. But you’ve made absolutely no case that Metro is overstaffed. None at all.

  • CW

    TWENTY-FIVE MINUTE HEADWAYS AFTER 9:30???!!!

    If I was a restaurant or bar owner anywhere in Metro’s coverage area, I would literally show up to this meeting with a pitchfork and flaming torch. You really think customers are going to pay for a cab from Chinatown/Adams Morgan/Foggy Bottom to Arlington on multiple nights a week? Why doesn’t metro just do some market research and realize that weekend evenings are some of the MOST busy times, not the least.

    • Burger

      Maybe you should read the post. They are talking about Sunday night after 9:30 PM.

      how many people go out on sunday night. Sure there are some but nearly as many as you think.

      I’m not defending the increase in time only pointing out the limited impact.

      • madisonmanor

        Actually, according to the post, it’s both Saturday and Sunday: “After 9:30 p.m. on both days, you’ll have to wait 25 minutes between trains.”

        • CW

          Yeah, I second what the guy who can read said!

        • Burger

          Oh, no, I was wrong. Again, the point is being made that waiting 25 minutes on Saturday night is abjectly not a big issue. Many people on Saturday night are in the process of going out.

          Further, there are a number of buses that follow the subway root.

          I’m not saying it is right just pointing out the chicken little attitude.

  • charlie

    i think we need federal takeover.

  • Chris

    Worst. Idea. Ever.

  • JamesE

    This is why I always take a cab home, 25 minutes is unacceptable.

  • Jacob

    Why aren’t Metro stations and trains COVERED in ads? Stations are shockingly free of advertisements–surely a lost revenue opportunity.

    • Josh S

      And thank goodness for that. There has actually been a substantial increase in the ads over the last couple of years. It’s objectionable for a variety of reasons, mostly having to do with maintaining some sort of shared public space free of corporate intrusion. Which is why I also rejected the idea of selling station names. I’m much happier getting off at East Falls Church rather than, say Outback Steakhouse Station.
      Personally, I’d gladly pay more at the turnstile to keep the stations/trains from becoming more plastered with ads.

      • imissTX

        I’m not going to lie… having a station called “Outback Steakhouse Station” sounds pretty awesome. If it saves me money, then why not. You may have really hit on something here. Perhaps Courthouse and Clarendon could become “Zappos Brown Flip Flops East” and “Zappos Brown Flip Flops West”, respectively.

        • dynaroo

          Saves money, and it’s delicious!

      • Jacob

        So rather than put up ads, you want to either increase taxes or fares? Why? If you’re so desperate to avoid “corporate intrusion” hire a limo service.

    • gringo

      And after this weekend, we won’t even have those posters from the group that says the world is ending.

  • Aaron

    It;s also really sketchy how they present it in their survey.

    Instead of saying 25 minute waits, its listed as:

    Increase the wait time between Metrorail trains by 3-6 minutes on Saturdays until 9:30 PM and increase the wait time by 5 minutes from 9:30 PM until closing. Saves an estimated $3 million annually. An average of 16,700 trips are taken hourly on Saturdays.

  • Lacey Forest

    I took the Metro survey and was disappointed to see that the only items affecting the budget were proposals to increase wait times between trains on the weekends and to increase parking fees on weekends–both items that would tend to drive away users rather than attract them. There were many other items in the survey about adjusting bus routes or eliminating special fares east of the Anacostia, but none of them have any budget effect. Metro needs to work on giving potential users a reason to use Metro, not to stay away, but I don’t think they are capable of that any more.

  • Agent Michael Scarn

    If you can’t make it to the hearing tomorrow night, you should at least submit your comments here (it’s a link on the WMATA page from above): http://survey.wbanda.com/budgetsurvey/ .

    There’s a section at the end to leave your open-ended comments. Let’s hope they hear from enough of us about the proposed headway increases!

  • Fustercluck. Failure. And Arlington keeps discouraging cars. We better get some more bike stations around. Just watch out late at night when you are riding back home to Shirlington and a speeding stolen car from PG careens over the pathway into Four Mile Run.

    • bb

      The solution is obvious… Giant chickens, with saddles. This also makes the backyard chicken lobby happy.

      • dynaroo

        But no roosters!

        • KalashniKEV

          Ask your mom when she gets home, Trebek! She taught me some new stuff last weekend! 😉

      • Bluemontsince1961

        LOL!

  • KalashniKEV

    This is the worst designed metro anywhere on earth. Why are the lights on the floor? The (minimally) reflected fluorescent light is dim and dingy looking, and one foot of water in the tunnel and it’s “lights out.”

    A small flood, or tunnel leak with accompanying pump failure would be a catastrophic event.

    • rider

      Most people like it. A poll put it on the list of “America’s Favorite Architecture” a few years back. I think it looks good – not institutional.

      • …and barely functional.

        • dynaroo

          Barely functional? Don’t overstate the case. Metro is a pretty good system that’s showing its age and is overtaxed.

          • ok. I’ll give you that. How about barely maintainable?

          • dynaroo

            Perfect.

      • KalashniKEV

        It’s dark and austere… all concrete, no color. It seriously looks like Commies built it!

        • rider

          What would you prefer it look like, the inside of a McDonald’s?

          • KalashniKEV

            Thanks for asking!!

            I’d like it to be BRIGHT, CLEAN, and overall nice looking and well designed. Not dingy, dimly lit, or scary.

            http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1199/809751892_cd6551fe69.jpg

          • PhilL

            A white floor like that would do amazing things to the feel of the system.

          • KalashniKEV

            A white floor would do far less for ours because the lights are also on the floor. The dull gray concrete soaks up all the light rather than reflecting it. What we need is a shiny white ceiling.

          • PhilL

            Not entirely. Their is indirect lighting (uplighting) from the pylons along the platform. That light comes back down from the vault and gets lost in the dark floor.

            There are also quite a few lights under the mezzanine structure that illuminate directly down to the floor. Foggy Bottom just got a bunch of bright new lights that way.

          • rider

            A bright shiny white interior would be hell.

          • Sounds like Arlington County should do a study on the aesthetics of the metro stations in the county.

          • Bluemontsince1961

            That looks a lot better than our underground Metro stations. Where is this location?

          • KalashniKEV

            Germany. I take back my comment of a few seconds ago too- take the lights off the floor. That’s stupid. Paint everything with a light gray or beige- so it doesn’t look so dirty right away, and semi-gloss/gloss so it reflects the light around.

          • Bluemontsince1961

            Thanks, KalashniKev. I hope their underground stations don’t leak like the Metro does, especially the Rosslyn station. I had to transfer there back last year when I rode Metro to a job interview and the leakage on the lower level was pretty amazing, at least to me.

          • KalashniKEV

            Oh, I know… I use Rosslyn too. Josh S (below) says they don’t leak though… weird? I guess I need an Engineering degree to know that water running down the walls and lighting attached to the floor is not a good thing…

          • rider

            There’s a reason professionals design interiors and not random self-appointed experts on the internet.

          • KalashniKEV

            And I wish they hired one to design ours rather than just making it easier for the lazy bum who has to change the light bulbs. Have you ever seen lighting on the floor of a tunnel anywhere else?

          • rider

            You can bet that this German interior cost alot more than Metro’s. If we had implemented it, someone would be complaining about the cost.

        • Cate

          Google Budapest’s Metro….then DC’s will look bright and cheery.

          • Wow. We have to go all the way to Budapest to find one in worse shape. Oh the shame!

    • Josh S

      Hmmm, yet in forty years of operation that hasn’t happened. Where’d you get your engineering degree again?

      • KalashniKEV

        What was it like 6 months ago that Jihadis were going to blow up the metro? The escalators and elevators are always broken, how do you think they maintain their equipment that isn’t always in use? Get some sense. There’s no reason for the lights to be on the floor.

    • Justin Russo
      • I love the pics. The map of the Moscow system also shows they realize they need a subway beltway. The circular line is EXACTLY what metro needs here to help ease suburban traffic congestion. It is a no brainer. Even the Russians know it.

        • R0bespierre

          Huge fan of the giant brown ring.

          • It is a little dirty, but it gets you to your desitination quickly.

          • CW

            Did you seriously write that, R0bespierre?

  • Eve-il

    I got on the orange line/Metro Center stop around 11:15pm Friday Night…. After many delays and long waits at each stop, I finally got off one stop early at VA Square and walked the remainder of my trip home.
    What took me 20mins on the way into DC… took well over an hour on the way home! Ridiculous – and a main reason I won’t go into DC much anymore. I’ll just spend my money at home in Arlington with the brown flip flop DBs 🙂
    Thanks Metro for doing a half @ssed job – you deserve a raise!

    • Dan

      “I’ll just spend my money at home in Arlington with the brown flip flop DBs”

      Shhh……you are going to give away Zimmerman’s double secret plan that he put in place while he was the board……..

  • Bender

    Why oh why would anyone want to shackle themselves to government when all it ever does is make life less free and more inconvenient?

    • dynaroo

      …says the guy writing on the government-created Internet.

      • …and soon to be government-taxed internet.

        • dynaroo

          On noes! The government won’t be giving you a free Internet handout any more?

          • You’re right. The “free” stuff only goes to the poor. As for the internet, have you seen your Verizon bill lately? It is hardly “free”. Let’s tax the air next. Everyone will have a “air use tax” based upon your body weight, heart rate, and respiration rate. If you breath more slowly you can save a few bucks.

          • dynaroo

            So the internet is already taxed, so why are you complaining now?

            Air is free, yes, but unfortunately, even that is becoming rare. We do need a tax on consumption of air, in a sense – a tax on polluters. That may indeed be the only way to make sure the free air isn’t used up. Google “tragedy of the commons.”

            It’s perfectly normal to attach a price to something of value. That’s the market at work. When the value isn’t reflected in the cost, sometimes its appropriate for the government to do it.

          • I didn’t realize I was paying Verizon a “tax”. I’m paying them for a service.

            I would agree with you about taxing polluters. That’s a tax on keeping the air clean. Let’s also tax the DBs who throw their cigarrette butts out the window.

            Isn’t the value of something what someone is willing to pay for it? So, if there is no market drive cost then nobody is willing to pay for it. Taxing air would likely create an uproar. When you get somethig gfor free for years and someone wants to make you pay for it all of a sudden, you get a little mad. Kind of like my mother being annoyed about paying for television (although she could get some for free). But that seems to be a way of life lately. Tax more, pay less, lower benefits.

          • dynaroo

            Like I said, google “tragedy of the commons” and “market failure” while you’re at it.

            What are you willing to pay for clean air? Nothing, because you’re used to getting it free. But if you had to, you’d pay alot, because it’s more important than anything else. We could let polluters consume it for free until we all have to buy air in bottles, or we could do something smarter, sooner. Yes, people get mad about having to pay for something they used to get free. As the population grows, and as people want more, that happens alot. That’s life.

          • Ah, but the Internet isn’t air and we’re not talking about pollution. We are talking about a service that I pay Verizon, Comcast, or some other entity to provide me.

            And we already tax “air”, as you define it (as taxing pollutants). There is a gasoline tax. The lower mileage vehicle you drive, the more tax you pay. Same can be true for a variety of other pollutants.

          • Vinh An Nguyen

            The “free” stuff only goes to the poor.

            Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are hardly poor.

      • EFC neighbor

        Hear hear!

  • Michael H.

    Is this really a change? With all of the ongoing maintenance and facility rehabilitation projects on the weekends, I often have to wait at least 25 minutes for a train on the weekends right now. Admittedly, I don’t use Metro every weekend. But when I do, the service is not that reliable, whether it’s in the afternoon or the evening.

    While system-wide 25-min. waits is not a good thing, honestly it doesn’t seem that different from what’s going on now already. That’s why I’m glad we now have Capital Bikeshare. A good alternative to getting downtown when Metro is fouled up.

  • Akimbo

    The service on Metro is so horrible that I finally broke down and bought a car. Even with the employer provided Metro subsidy that I receive…I just can’t take it anymore! How is that for a car-free diet?

  • Chris

    Metro needs to emphasize the fact that it is both an urban subway and a suburban commuter rail line.

    They can’t have the same transit service at Dupont Circle or Galley Place that they have at Shaddy Grove or Vienna.

    Why not have more frequent short trains that only run the urban parts of the system. Wait times are already too long in the urban core. Then reduce service on the outer stops.

    Run the red from Silver Spring to Bethesda. The Orange from to Ballston to RFK. Run the Blue out to King Street. Stop the Green at the first stops in PG.

    With plans to pull Metro out to past Dulles, Metro really needs to get serious about differentiating its dual role. Otherwise the system is going to break apart under its own weight of trying to be too many things to too many people.

  • Abe Froman

    Its a real toss up as to who runs their business better… WMATA or Zimbabwe.

  • tom343

    No public transit system ought to be held to providing a profit. They are there to benefit the economy or the region they serve. The increased revenue businesses get via their convenient services is what’s supposed to pay for them. They are supposed to be cheap, pervasive, safe and universal.

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