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Dr. Gridlock
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Posted at 06:21 PM ET, 05/19/2011

Metro riders speak out on proposed cuts

Metro faces a $66 million budget deficit for its fiscal year starting in July. To make up the difference, officials are asking for more money from each of the area jurisdictions and proposing to eliminate some bus lines and make the wait times between weekend trains longer.

During town halls and budget hearings this week, riders and Metro employees have expressed concerns on these issues and more. Here are some highlights.

• Escalators, escalators, escalators. When will they all work? It is a constant question from Metro riders and many asked top Metro’s top officials about it.

Richard Sarles, Metro’s general manager, gave a few apologies over the week for escalators and elevators out of service. The best advice: Be patient; they’re working on it. The transit system is spending $148 million over the next five years to replace 140 escalators and 30 elevators in the system, officials said.

• At the Hyattsville public meeting, a few bus drivers spoke up that they were worried customers angered by the proposed cutbacks in routes along some lines would take out their frustrations on drivers, as they’ve already seen an uptick in attacks on bus drivers.

• Where does your money go? Metro officials say: For every dollar spent on Metro’s systems, 91 cents goes to maintaining and servicing buses and trains. The rest goes to support human resources, technology and customer service improvements.

• Metro officials promise they’re working to make riders commutes better, including replacing 5,000 feet of track and 30 switches in the system as part of its $5 billion capital budget over the next six years.

•Proposing to eliminate the E6 bus line that runs in the Friendship Heights and Chevy Chase area prompted Joan Williams-Thomas, 74, of Hawthorne to attend a recent meeting and speak out against the plan. Metro says the line carries fewer than 400 riders daily and eliminating it would save $385,000 a year.

“You don’t understand what it means to the neighborhood,” Williams-Thomas said as she leaned on two crutches. “The M4 won’t take my granddaughter to Lafeyette [Elementary School] and the E6 takes me to Friendship Heights where my doctors are. The E6 is the sustenance for the whole area.”

The final budget session is Thursday night. The hearing begins at 6:45 p.m. at Matthews Memorial Baptist Church, John H. Kearney Sr. Fellowship Hall, 2616 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. in Southeast Washington.

Video: A rider advocates keeping the E6 bus route

Follow Dana on Twitter @postmetrogirl.

By  |  06:21 PM ET, 05/19/2011

Categories:  Metro

 
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