Now, Metro wants to end night service in the trouble spots,
all but giving in to the unidentified young people thought to be menacing the route.
Metro Transit Police say they have not been able to halt the attacks, with no arrests in at leasttwo years.
The chief spokeswoman for the D.C. police says the department does not assign officers or detectives to the bus cases because the attacks on Metrobuses are the transit agency’s responsibility.
Caught in the middle are residents who live in the heart of the city’s poorest ward and who depend on bus service. If the proposed service cuts to the routes — the W6 and W8 — are approved, some riders would be forced to walk up to half a mile to the nearest bus stop.
Metro’s top bus official said he regrets having to take such a dramatic step, but said he has to consider the safety of the agency’s employees and passengers.
“From a safety standpoint it is worth taking the service away,” said Jack Requa, Metro’s bus chief.
When the objects hit the moving buses, they crack windshields and break side windows, and in the most serious cases, injure riders and bus operators.
D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who represents the area, said the police have not done enough.
“It’s gotten worse because nobody’s dealt with it,” Barry said. “There’s been this finger-pointing on the part of Metro police and D.C. police.”
With many people in Ward 8 needing public transit, reductions in bus service should not be made lightly, Barry said. Instead, the attacks on the buses — and similar vandalism of cars and other property — need to be more vigorously investigated than they have been up until now, he said.
“They have not tried everything,” Barry said. “Simple as that.”
Rock-throwing incidents targeting buses have been a citywide problem for years, but they occur far more frequently in Southeast, Metro officials said. The problem is acute along the W6 and W8 routes, which traverse Robinson Place and other streets with a history of violent crime. Metro says the W6 and W8 buses are targeted several times a week and some weeks every day.
Police they think the attackers are ages 12 to 19, said Jeff Delinski, deputy chief of the Tansit Police. They hide in the dark and are gone by the time police arrive, Delinski said.
“We put our officers out there to attempt to catch these people and it is a waiting game,” Delinski said.
Barry said the problem is puzzling.
“I don’t know what it is about young boys that they love to throw rocks,” Barry said. “It happens more in low-income communities, it happens more where [there are] people with transit dependency and also where there are a significant number of young people who are home after school and don’t have recreation facilities.”