Ask GGW: Who can push for more and better bus service?
Reader Michael Fekula wants to see new and more frequent Sunday bus service to his neighborhood, Westchester Park, between College Park and Greenbelt. He sent us a copy of a letter that he wrote to WMATA General Manager Richard Sarles:
I live in the Westchester Park community which is located on Kenilworth Avenue east of Berwyn Heights and west of Greenbelt. We are served by one bus route: the R12, which runs Monday through Saturday.
The biggest problem is that there is no Sunday service. We have a large number of senior citizens and many others who go to church on Sunday but who cannot get there unless somebody gives them a ride.
There are others who work on weekends, plus, a large number of Univ. of Maryland students who have no way to get to campus on Sunday.
Even shopping nearby is problematic as the closest shopping center, Beltway Plaza, is going to be too long of a walk for older people.Matt Johnson wrote about this issue in neighboring Greenbelt back in June. Matt even made a map that showed the stark difference between bus service during the week and on Sundays.
The closest bus service to our location on Sunday is the route 81 bus which goes to the far side of Beltway Plaza—
a good 30 minute walk from Westchester Park. And it only runs once an hour on Sundays and service ends late afternoon. Not at all convenient.
Matt points out that the obstacle to Sunday bus service (or increasing bus service in other ways) is probably not WMATA itself, but the state and local governments:
TRU-G (the transit advocacy group in Greenbelt) has been pushing for Sunday service for years now. WMATA is interested in providing the service, but there's a catch. WMATA doesn't get to decide where to expand service. The funding jurisdiction does. And in the case of Prince George's (and Montgomery) County, that's the Maryland Department of Transportation.Therefore, Michael Fekula and any other Maryland residents who want more bus service on Sundays might also want to start talking to lawmakers in Annapolis and officials at MDOT to ask the state to provide funds for better bus service.
MDOT has to pony up the money, not WMATA. Until people exert enough pressure on the state government, that's not going to happen. In Greenbelt, we've been trying for several years, but there are lots of projects competing for money from the state, and Sunday bus service in Greenbelt hasn't yet made the cut.
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