Wednesday, January 21, 2015

DC Metro ponders service cuts as its system is viewed as not safe enough now without tremendous overhaul

The inability of the Washington DC Metro to maintain safety and avoid delays may have a major impact on many Metro area businesses, especially within the District itself, especially bars, theaters and restaurants that depend on the ability of people to get around at night. 
WJLA reported late Tuesday that the Metro is again considering still another fare hike, as of July 1, 2015, may reduce even rush hour service, and may eliminate after midnight service on weekends, in a story here in a story by Tom Roussey and the AP.   The changes would be likely to happen by the same time, July 1, but could occur sooner if more maintenance emergencies are discovered by NTSB investigations. 
Many cities (such as Cleveland along Euclid Ave.) have effective “bus only lanes”, a “tram-like” concept that could expand effective service in some areas (like Columbia Pike in Arlington).  Conceivably, express busses could run along Metro routes  on weekends and give Metro more time for extensive repairs that seem necessary now.  But, especially after all the bike lane development, there aren’t many routes in DC that offer extra lanes.  But one such route is K Street, which has service roads, and which was used to DC-to-Arlington bus service (through Georgetown) in the days before Metro (which I often used when I went to GW).   
Metro has run since 1976, and until after 2000 seemed pretty reliable to me.  After I came back from Minnesota in 2003, I noticed it had a lot more shutdowns and failures.  Incidents like that on Jan. 13 had been unheard of before. 
Major European capitals have always had reliable Metro.  Amsterdam, curiously, has only above ground tram service but it has always been effective when I was there.
In the US, it seems that only NYC is able to run an effective 24x7 rail mass transit with few interruptions (except for 9/11 damage and then Sandy).  The fact is in that almost all other cities, it seems that most people drive and park somewhere to go out at night.  In some cities (like West Hollywood) with little street parking, business owners have ensured there is really enough (paid) garage space. That’s a problem in DC with not enough 24 hour garages in areas that need them.  But I never seem to have a problem parking anywhere else at night (in cities with little mass transit), especially in cities where I’ve rented cars.  Baltimore (though big and having less of a Metro) is easy to park in, whereas DC is difficult.  


The Metro's own PDF talking points document is here. Note that the document does discuss ending late night service but also says that doing so could result in a Title VI discriminatory impact and that savings might be relatively unimpressive, but admits that it could happen Oct. 1

New York City does not run some express trains during off hours and recommends alternate routes sometimes during these periods, but always seems to keep some level of service everywhere.  It also has track maintenance advisories, but these seem to have less impact than in DC.  

Update: Jan. 22

Was in Philadelphia today.  Although the SEPTA system is very complicated, different lines (including streetcar) and different payment systems, at least some of it runs 24x7 on weekends.  

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