Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Public Hearings and the Chopping Block

We just came back from one of Metro's six public hearings to discuss the budget and service “adjustments.”
First off, we have to say that Metro did a FANTASTIC job with signage. There was no way you weren't going to find this meeting.
Ostensibly, the meetings—this one was chaired by Chris Zimmerman and attended by Metro GM John Catoe--are held so that the public can get on the record with their views and Metro can consider those views when making final decisions.
As this was our first time, we didn't know what size crowd to expect, but since Virginia has relatively been spared the rod by some of the bus cuts, perhaps there was little interest and 40 or so was about what to expect.
The tone at the hearing was very civil, almost somnolent, so we'd hardly call John Catoe a brave man, as others have, for facing the public.
After hearing several passionate pleas to save certain bus service, particularly the 10A, we were left wondering if bus routes are easy targets for the budgetary ax because buses generally serve a lower socioeconomic demographic, one that is less likely to be engaged, speak English or voice concerns over losing service.
On the other hand, we see a lot of near empty buses (and trains) around at night, and we've always wondered why bus stops are so close together. Seriously, there are places where you can see three or four stops down the road. That's ridic, but it probably wouldn't save much money to space them out.
We get back to a point we've made before: If buses and trains could keep a schedule, Metro could cut service frequency, but allow users to plan their schedules accordingly. From all that we've experienced and heard about on this blog, that dream remains distant.
We did come away with a new appreciation for the complexity of Metro's budget.
A couple of other items of interest came up, and we'll blog about those later.

Other news:
Shocker! Dulles rail line completion delayed

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Anonymous said...

It's true, the bus crowd is likely to be engaged because they are busy riding the bus. Like, I'd love to make it to the 6 pm meeting but usually I'm, guess where? I think you should be careful to generalize about buses. The Metro bus in Virginia that I ride is very timely and sticks to a schedule. Don't knock them all - commuters depend on buses.

Unsuck DC Metro said...

Thanks for your comment. From what we heard tonight and from emails/comments on this blog, the buses WMATA runs are hit or miss in terms of keeping schedule.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Correction from 9:55 pm - I meant, that the bus crowd is "less likely".

Also, I'm telling you, the bus I ride is on time and full of people. Don't mess with us!!! Just cause we stand in line and pay our fares doesn't mean we won't rise against you. You should acknowledge where things do work, and I'm telling you, it works where I live. Please do not mess up my sole means of getting to work. If you do see inefficiencies, it's more productive if you are specific in your suggestions, rather than make blanket statements.

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