Public hearings on Metro proposals to change or eliminate service on 44 District and suburban Maryland bus routes are scheduled to begin next week.

The changes, requested by local governments as a way to save them more than $1 million on bus operation subsidies, would be effective in September if approved this summer by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board.

Most of the changes were proposed because of declining ridership and a need to improve bus connections with Metro subway routes. Many of the proposals involve trips on weekends and early and late on weekdays. Several routes are proposed for elimination, including the District's Downtowner service on Route M8 to the Southwest waterfront and the Ardwick Industrial Park Shuttle around New Carrollton.

Hearings on the Montgomery-District routes are set for May 18, 19 and 20. The hearing on the 18th will be at Wilson High School, Nebraska Avenue and Chesapeake Street NW. On the 19th, the hearing will be in the Montgomery County Office Building in Rockville. On the 20th, the hearing will be at the WMATA board room at 600 Fifth St. NW.

A single hearing on District-Prince George's routes is scheduled for May 27 at New Carrollton City Hall, 8511 Legation Rd., New Carrollton.

All the hearings begin at 7:30 p.m. Written comments on the proposed changes in District Montgomery routes may be submitted until May 25. June 1 on the deadlline for written comments on District-Prince George's routes. Write to Delmer Ison, Secretary WMATA, 600 Fifth St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001.

The District-Prince George's routes affected are the F12 Ardwick Industrial Park Shuttle, Marlow Heights Route H11, H12 and H14, Greenbelt Route R12 and Bowie-Belair Routes T14 and T16.

The District-Montgomery routes affected are the Route 60 Fort Totten-Fort McNair line, Routes 80 and 81 North Capitol Street line, Route 82 Maryland Line, Routes 92, 94 and 96 U Street-Garfield Street line.

Also, the Route A7 Bolling Field-Pentagon shuttle, C4 Randolph Road line, D1, D3 and D9 Glover Park-Trinidad line, D5 and D6 Loughboro Chevy Chase line, H6 Brookland-Kennedy Center line, H8 Park Road-Brookland line, K5, K6 and K8 New Hampshire Avenue line, L5 Connecticut Avenue line, M2 Capitol Hill-Fouth Street line, M4 Nebraska Avenue line, M8 Downtowner line.

Also, the N1 and N3 Massachusetts Avenue line, N7 N9 and N11 Montgomery suburban express line, P1 Takoma-Petworth line, R2 Queens Chapel Road line, S1 16th Street line, T5 and T7 Montgomery suburban express line, Y9 Georgia Avenue-Maryland line and Z3, Z4 and Z5 Colesville Road lines.