Metro riders react to shorter trains

October 3, 2013

(Luz Lazo/The Washington Post)

Metro said its ridership was down about 20 percent in Thursday morning’s rush hour with the federal government shutdown. Metro takes in about $2 million in revenue a day. “Each day that passes places additional pressure on our operating budget,” said Metro spokesman Dan Stessel.

On Wednesday, Metro said it was cutting back on the length of its trains because of a drop in ridership. The transit agency is running only six-car trains instead of a mix of six- and eight-car trains on the rail system. Each rail car can carry roughly 120 people, so riders typically favor trains with more cars.

The news wasn’t welcome to some riders Wednesday afternoon.

Diane Till, of Southeast Washington and a worker at the Department of Veterans Affairs in McPherson Square, said Metro should maintain the same level of service and not cut back on train cars. Although there were fewer riders Wednesday — the first full day of the government shutdown — Till said others in the private sector still depend on transit.

“A lot of people still have to work,” she said. “I know a lot of the riders are federal workers, but many people are not. There are people who work in construction, people in the restaurants, in the private sector. They need to keep the large trains running and give people the service they deserve.”

Liz Kuehl, another rider who commutes from Eastern Market to her job at McPherson Square, said she doesn’t mind if Metro cuts back as long as riders still have adequate service.

“If that means there is not enough room for people who are still commuting, then it is not a good thing. But, if it still covers the ridership, that’s fine,” she said. “It’s a good way for them to cut down.”

Even if they change the frequency, she wouldn’t mind, she said.

“Right now in rush hour, they do [run trains] every three to four minutes, if they made that five minutes, I don’t think that would be the end of the world,” she said. Now raising the fares, eventually, as a result of the shutdown, she said, “would have a real impact on people.”

“Hopefully it doesn’t last long, and we won’t get to that. But that of course is going to be another impact,” she said. “It would be a bummer.

“It has been less crowded for sure in the last couple of days. It is okay for those of us who are riding, but obviously it means people are not going to work.”

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