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Chevy Chase residents oppose proposed Metrobus cuts

WMATA is proposing to eliminate the E6 route to help close a $66 million budget shortfall. But residents of Chevy Chase oppose cutting the route, which serves a retirement home in Northwest.


Photo by philliefan99 on Flickr.

Residents from the Knollwood senior community and other Chevy Chase residents came out in strong support of keeping the E6 bus line at WMATA's public hearing in Tenleytown Tuesday night. Councilmembers Mary Cheh (Ward 3) and Muriel Bowser (Ward 4) also spoke in support of the E6, which serves parts of both wards. Residents had a chance to ask questions about other issues, including customer service and SmarTrip problems.

Metro would eliminate the E6 route and other routes to help balance the FY12 budget. The proposal would also cut service on the N8 and K1, extend headways for weekend rail service, and eliminate the Anacostia special fare.

The E6 carries an average of 373 riders per day, according to WMATA, and eliminating the route would save an estimated $385,000. To replace the Knollwood portion of the E6, Metro would extend the M4 along Western Avenue to Oregon Avenue. Most residents testified in support of the E6, and a small number spoke about changing or eliminating the N8. No one spoke in support of the N8 as is, and no one spoke on the proposed K1 or V8 changes.

Cheh, Bowser, and others testified that the E6 serves upper Connecticut Avenue and Friendship Heights, both important commercial and medical destinations for seniors. They argued that cutting the E6 would hurt local businesses and burden seniors trying to reach doctors' offices.

Knollwood employees also use the E6. One resident said the M4 begins too late in the morning for staff members to arrive on time. The M4 terminates at Tenleytown and residents connecting to Friendship Heights would have to transfer to the 30s, take the Red Line one stop, or walk down Wisconsin Avenue. Although they are close, the extra commute time and walk to Friendship Heights would unfairly burden seniors and disabled riders. Several residents said shifting ridership to the M4 would create significant overcrowding and slower service.

One Barnaby Woods resident said the neighborhood is wealthy and many residents have cars. If Metro were to eliminate the E6, he would simply drive instead. The E6 is the only transit connection for many Chevy Chase residents, and some said eliminating the service would effectively isolate this section of Upper Northwest.

Metro's budget gap is $66 million. Cutting the E6 would only save $385,000, a tiny portion of this gap. Certainly, if this argument were made for every cut, it could cumulatively fail to close the gap. But because this route provides direct transit access for seniors, it is not a wise choice. Cheh indicated at the end of her testimony that the Committee on Transportation and Public Works may have found additional funds to save the E6.

The committee report does identify sources of revenue to help fund the District's WMATA subsidy, and perhaps some of this money could continue to fund the E6. Metro is considering asking the three jurisdictions for more funding.

Some residents also spoke about the N8. The N8 runs eastbound on Yuma Street from 49th Sreet to Tenley Circle. Metro estimates an average daily ridership of only 300. Eliminating service on this route would save an estimated $516,000.

Yuma Street residents are concerned that the street is too steep and with low ridership, N8 drivers often speed down Yuma, making it dangerous for children and other pedestrians. One Yuma Street resident joked that more people had spoken to save the E6 route than ride the N8.

An American University student did speak in support of the N8, saying it helps students living in Glover Park travel to AU. She supported moving the N8 off Yuma to create a more direct connection to AU, but said the route should stay.

No one spoke on the K1 or V8 routes.

In addition to public testimony on the proposed service changes, Metro officials gave a short presentation on the FY12 budget and took questions from the audience. Residents asked about customer service and problems with the weekly bus pass.

Several residents said they have had negative encounters with bus drivers and station managers, including problems using the 7-day bus pass. WMATA CFO Carol Kissal said the agency had fixed the bus pass issue and apologized for poor bus driver service. Kissal said customers will be able to load their SmarTrip cards online this summer.

Few at the meeting spoke about extending weekend rail headways, though one man commented that stopping weekend rail service at midnight would be a mistake. A representative from Amalgamated Transit Union 689, which represents Metro employees, said the union opposes service cuts because it will hurt bus and rail operators.

The WMATA panel included General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles, WMATA board members Tom Downs and Mort Downey, and Barbara Richardson, Assistant General Manager of Customer Service, Communications and Marketing at Metro. The agency held two hearings each in the District, Maryland, and Virginia. The entire docket, including all proposed bus and rail service changes, is available here.

Jamie Scott is a resident of Ward 3 in DC and a regular Metrobus commuter. He believes in good government, livable communities and quality public transit. Jamie holds a B.A. in Government from Georgetown University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Policy at Georgetown. 

Comments

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Is there is reason the E6 and M4 could not be combined. How much more would it be to extend the M4 to Friendship Heights along the E6 route or reroute either the E2, E3 or E4 up Oregon Ave and along the E6 route.

I must be missing something because the V7 and V8 changes as described in the pdf would leave no bus service on Kenilworth Ave, M Street SE/SW at night and it makes no mention of the V9 or people who are going to the Bureau or Engraving on surrounding areas.

The K1 should just be merged back with the K2 so that Blair Rd and Eastern Ave have transit

I know someone will mentioned the Anacostia $1.00 fare it was due to Anacostia station opening and WMATA shortening all bus routes to end there instead of going across the river which they previously did. All of the A routes, 94 and several others which have been discontinued or merged went across the river. People complained about it because in many cases their fare cost tripled so WMATA came up with the special fare so that those users would get on the train to where they were going instead.

by kk on May 22, 2011 6:53 pm • linkreport

Does the E6 still use those small buses (the same kind that served that Adams Morgan - U Street link)?

by Martin on May 22, 2011 8:21 pm • linkreport

Those minibuses (which also ran on the M4 and D2) were retired back in 2009 and replaced with conventional 30' buses.

by Jason on May 22, 2011 9:14 pm • linkreport

Over 1,100 residents expressed their opposition to the elimination of the E6 bus by signing a petition requesting that WMATA/DDOT retain the popular Chevy Chase line. It's critical to the daily lives of hundreds of residents in the area. We pay for this service through our tax dollars and many of us are committed to maintaining a transit-friendly community. If the E6 were eliminated it would be a step backward for many of the goals advanced by WMATA/DDOT and the Mayor's office.

by Michaela on May 23, 2011 10:58 am • linkreport

A couple of corrections and clarifications on this posting. The E6 savings of $385,000 is net of the additional cost of extending the M4 route to provide service to most E6 customers.

The Anacostia special bus fare is not being eliminated but transferred to the rail station. Anyone on the affected bus routes who transfers to or from Metrorail will continue to receive the special fare discount. Customers who only ride the bus in the Anacostia area will pay a higher bus fare.

The E6 is one of the poorest performing routes in the Metrobus system as measured by farebox recovery and riders per trip. The farebox recovery ratio is 17% and the average number of riders per trip is 5.7.

by Steve Strauss on May 24, 2011 8:28 am • linkreport

Steve,

As you know, the extension of the M4 to replace part of the E6 also means that riders will no longer be able to access Friendship Heights and the retail establishments, public library, and Community Center on Upper Connecticut Avenue. This is an important part of the route that is presently served by the E6 and NOT be the M4.

On the question of the statistics cited by DDOT/WMATA it is hard, actually impossible, for the public to comment since we do not have access to the data. Transparency by DDOT and WMATA would be helpful. Could you share the historical and recent comparative statistics, along with the methodology, with the public?

by Michaela on May 24, 2011 10:49 pm • linkreport

@ Michaela

They still able to reach Friendship Hgts via the E2,3 or 4 routes all it will take is a transfer from the M4 to the the other E routes. The M4 and E lines share at least one stop together possibly more im not sure; you could transfer buses there.

If the numbers show there is not enough riders for the continuing of the route so be it; maybe you should be talking to the community about using the bus more and not complaining about the service being cut when almost no one uses it.

by kk on May 25, 2011 2:18 pm • linkreport

correction : They are

by kk on May 25, 2011 4:10 pm • linkreport

@ kk

With a ridership of nearly 400 people a day the E6 cannot be considered a route that "almost no one uses." Also, it seems legitimate to ask how Metro arrives at their numbers for the E6 line, and other routes, since there is no objective way for the public to verify whether these statistics are accurate. Finally, no doubt it is possible to transfer to reach Friendship Heights, but it adds considerable time to the trip. One day I waited for 15 minutes in bad weather for a bus on Wisconsin Avenue to take me from Tenely to Friendship (my mistake). With the proposed changes our bus service will become ever weaker, instead of stronger, which will certainly result in even more riders abandoning Metrobus in upper NW. It is death by a thousands cuts.

If Metrobus makes the service a viable alternative to travel by car I am certain more riders will opt for the bus. For now, we have long waits during non-rush hour periods (40 minutes) and no weekend service. All of these factors make it challenging to encourage more people to ride the bus.

by Michaela on May 25, 2011 5:01 pm • linkreport

WMATA is holding a meeting to evaluate various bus routes (including the E6). The E6 evaluation meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 1 at Chevy Chase Library from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. More information can be found at http://www.metrobus-studies.com/MSE%202011/MSE2011.htm. Input is important so for those interested in keeping the E6 bus line please plan on attending.

by Michaela on May 31, 2011 12:16 am • linkreport

Chevy Chase residents oppose everything

by JessMan on May 31, 2011 8:08 am • linkreport

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