Greater Greater Washington

Metro restores almost all service cuts

The Metro board voted today to restore almost all of the proposed bus service cuts. They will close the rest of the $29 million budget gap with money from their "rainy day" operating reserve and some increase in contributions from Maryland.


Photo by treevis.

Only Chris Zimmerman of Arlington voted against the proposal. Mr. Zimmerman had previously objected to closing any of the gap using a one-time transfer, since it doesn't address the longer term problems. Zimmerman's office has told us they will provide a statement soon.

Of the $29 million gap, $13.7 million will come from the operating reserve. Montgomery County has already agreed to restore Ride-On cuts that forced Metro to pick up those services and cost $1 million. The State of Maryland and Prince George's County will also contribute more.

$2.5 million of bus cuts remain, mostly from Maryland. Maryland is cutting the Z2, C7, C9 and L7, and raising express bus fares to $3 on the J7, J9, and W19. Virginia will be restructuring the 21A/B/C/D/F, and Arlington Transit will take over the 22B and 24P. DC is no longer cutting any service.

General Manager John Catoe said that Metro expects to replenish the operating reserve because, due to conservative assumptions made during budget development, Metro typically runs a surplus compared to the approved budget. They currently project a $9 million surplus for this year, and had they not closed the budget gap with operating reserve, would have had to give all or most of that money back to the individual jurisdictions.

Michael Perkins blogs about Metro operations and fares, performance parking, and any other government and economics information he finds on the Web. He lives with his wife and two children in Arlington, Virginia. 

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According to Metro's press release, the Z2 will not be completely eliminated. I think it will be cut back to only rush-hour service on weekdays, but this is not entirely clear. A little bit of sorting-out will probably be needed to clarify what is happening to the Z2, especially because there is the added complication of the interaction between Montgomery County and Metro.

by Ben Ross on Apr 30, 2009 6:15 pm • linkreport

This is really a very large victory. It would not have happened without such an outpouring of public opposition. There were over 2500 public comments in opposition to the cuts. I want to thank all the readers of GGW and others who contributed to this.

by Ben Ross on Apr 30, 2009 6:17 pm • linkreport

DC cut weekend N22 service (by ending the N22 and creating a weekday-only Circulator). That was done in anticipation of the present Metro budget hullabaloo, so it seems appropriate not to forget about it at this time.

Oddly, Ride Guide believes the Navy Yard Circulator runs seven days, like the old N22. Last Sunday, I waited at the Circulator stop. No bus came. I called the number on the bus stop and got connected to Metro's "trip planning" department, which explained that the Circulator's Navy Yard route runs only five days.

At the risk of steaming gravely off-topic, I must say I think DDOT is getting muddled with the Circulator. The initial mantra of "seven days, 7A-9P, every ten minutes", coupled with dead-simple routes, was very good. Then they extended the hours for part of one route. Then they added two needlessly complicated routes, one of which runs only 5 days and has idiosyncratic AM hours! And they made the eastbound Georgetown route leapfrog the Circulator stop at 13th & K! The Circulator's moral advantage is dissipating faster than the polar ice caps.

by Turnip on Apr 30, 2009 8:18 pm • linkreport

I agree that it is a big victory overall for preserving service--particularly those that are largely voiceless in Langley Park and Wheaton and for those already underserved in Prince George's.

It was a win for equity and in preserving WMATA as a regional bus carrier.

I hate people who thrown rain on a parade, but I'm going to do it anyway. The second part of the equation is improving Metrobus service by bus priority measures that will actually make service better and reduce overall costs of the service provided--and attract new riders.

by kreeggo on Apr 30, 2009 8:42 pm • linkreport

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