Bus service in the Washington region is about to suffer its most severe cutback in as many years. The Metro board voted to hold public hearings on reducing Metrobus service to close part of the agency's $29 million budget gap. District members blocked consideration of a 5-cent across-the-board fare increase as an alternative to service cuts. Metrobus, Montgomery County's Ride On, Fairfax County's Fairfax Connector and Alexandria's DASH are among the local services planning to scale back by mid-2009 because their government sponsors are losing money. (That's tax money, not fare box money. The bus services are more popular than ever, but each requires a subsidy from one or more governments.) Today, we'll look at the potential impact on riders of Metrobus, the backbone of the region's bus services.