Metro board members tell where they ride — or don’t


(Wilson Andrews/The Washington Post)

Some Metro riders worry that board members aren’t using public transportation enough — given that they help oversee a transit agency with an annual budget of nearly $3 billion, roughly 11,000 employees and an estimated 750,000 rider trips a day on its rail lines alone.

We did an informal, unscientific survey of Metro’s board members and asked them whether they rode the system (rail or bus) and how often.

You might find their answers surprising. We did.

Overall, few board members rode regularly to stations at the end of the Metro rail lines in Maryland and Virginia. Some rode the bus — Muriel Bowser and Terry Bellamy of the District and Marcel Acosta, a federal representative. Many who said they rode the bus seemed to have a tough time remembering — or wanting — to be specific about which lines they rode.

Other board members — like Tom Bulger of D.C. — wouldn’t tell us specific Metro stations they used per “advice” from Metro Transit Police officials. (We checked with Metro officials and there have been no threats to their security.)

Most use the Metro-provided pass they get to ride the system for free, although James Dyke of Virginia said he pays out of pocket for his rides.

Check out how some of the board members responded.

Mort Downey, a vice chair on the board and chair of the safety and security committee, explained where he rides — mostly on the Red, Orange and Blue lines in the downtown D.C. area and Northern Virginia. Board Chairman Tom Downs, who represents the District, is a Red Line rider — mainly in the area of downtown D.C. and upper Northwest.

Tell us your thoughts in the comments section — Should board members be required to ride the Metro rail and/or bus system more often so they can get a sense of what riders experience as they make decisions for the agency?

Dana Hedgpeth is the Washington Post’s lead reporter in covering the Metro rail and bus systems in the D.C. region and the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) that runs them.
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