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Proposed Metro service cuts take more from DC

According to this presentation, which the Metro Board's Special Budget Committee will discuss Thursday, the previously proposed service cuts leave the District of Columbia with a $2.9 million surplus at the end. This means that those cuts to Metrobus and Metrorail affected the District of Columbia disproportionately through the funding formula. Chairman Jim Graham, Neil Albert, Michael A. Brown and Anthony Giancola, the District's representatives on the committee, should ask why the District should have service cut more than needed to keep their subsidy the same as last year, while other jurisdictions still need to give up more to balance the budget.

Photo by Mr. T in DC.

For reference, here are the other jurisdictions and the amount of additional service cuts to non-regional bus service needed to balance the budget:

Jurisdiction Additional non-regional bus cuts (increases)
needed to balance
DC ($2.9M)
Mongomery County 4.7
Prince George's 3.2
City of Alexandria 0.2
Arlington County 1.2
City of Fairfax 0.1
Fairfax County 1.0
Falls Church 0.0
Total $7.4M

These numbers are the amounts of non-regional bus service that would need to be cut (or added) in order to balance each jurisdiction's Metro budget, after already taking into account the administrative changes proposed in January and the service cuts proposed earlier this month. Non-regional bus lines are ones that don't cross jurisdictional boundaries, such as the U8 (Capitol Heights to Benning Heights) in DC, the 18s (Orange Hunt) and 17s (Kings Park Express) in Virginia, and the R4 (Queen's Chapel Road) in Maryland bus routes. Each jurisdiction directly pays for non-regional bus lines' costs after subtracting fares, rather than through the funding formula for rail or bus. Rail's funding formula takes into account population and density, ridership, and number of rail stations. Regional Bus's formula is based on population and density, service hours, the number of miles buses traveled, and ridership. Paratransit is paid for by the rider's home jurisdiction.

From the table, any further cuts are likely to hit Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, while the District may be looking at improving service compared to the previous proposal. WMATA staff is suggesting that the Board vote on March 5th to send these service cuts to public hearings. After listening to the hearings and written public comment, they'd approve final service reductions on April 23. As always, more to follow.

Michael Perkins serves on the Arlington County Transportation Commission, though the views expressed here are his own. He lives in Arlington with his wife and two children. 


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It makes sense that our budget is most out of balance for local bus service. Most of our WMATA bus routes are local according to this definition, but regional in practice. For example, the Q2 runs from Silver Spring to Wheaton to Rockville to Shady Grove. It serves a wide range of trips. However, it's defined as "local." However, it's quite different and bigger from the local Queens Chapel Road line in Hyattsville. It would be much harder to cut our bus routes because they aren't very many, they are long, and funtionally regional. Our funtionally local bus service is performed by RideOn.

It's different than in DC, for example, where WMATA performs bus service that is both functionally regional (30's line, S2/S4/S1) and funtionally local. Therefore, it's a different kind of challenge.

by Cavan on Feb 25, 2009 2:08 pm • linkreport

Is this a result of the cuts to services that provided transportation for students that is now prohibited by the Federal Transit Administration? And if not, shouldn't that mean that $2.9M worth of DC cuts can be avoided?

by Stanton Park on Feb 25, 2009 8:59 pm • linkreport

@Stanton Park: I know about the issue you're talking about, but the cuts were much more extensive than just eliminating the school bus routes. Based on the WMATA presentation, cutting the school bus routes saves $640,000. From this site:

by Michael Perkins on Feb 26, 2009 6:49 am • linkreport

According to this presentation, which the Metro Board's Special Budget Committee will discuss Thursday, the previously proposed service cuts leave the District of Columbia with a $2.9 million surplus at the end.
Does this mean that we didn't need to cut any DC bus service - or some but not all of it?

by Jazzy on Feb 26, 2009 8:16 am • linkreport

@Jazzy: It means that the systemwide cuts disproportionally affected DC's contributions to the system. Most likely that means you're right, or at least WMATA proposed cutting too much bus service.

The funding formula is much more sensitive to bus service changes than for rail. 66% of the rail funding formula is based on items outside of WMATA's immediate control (population and location of fixed stations), while for bus it's 75% under WMATA's direct or indirect control (service hours, miles traveled, ridership).

I'll be listening to the audio of the meeting at 10am to see if any DC members bring up this issue.

Audio here. If anyone else wants to listen and discuss here that would be great.

by Michael Perkins on Feb 26, 2009 8:51 am • linkreport

Scratch that, I won't be able to listen in. The audio link should be posted on this page once it's available:

by Michael Perkins on Feb 26, 2009 8:56 am • linkreport

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