For 64-year-old Darlene Burton, walking one city block is a daunting prospect. Painful varicose veins make it difficult for her to walk or even stand very long.

Without a car or family to drive her, she has become dependent on a Metrobus to take her everywhere.

Three, sometimes four days a week, she walks about a block from her home on Euclid Street to catch the bus that runs down Sherman Avenue to the the nearest supermarket, drugstore and bank.

The buses, which come every eight minutes, are her lifeline, she said. And she is not alone.

The neighborhood is an enclave of senior citizens who live in the aging brick row houses and low apartment buildings that line Sherman Avenue NW.

Many are regulars on the K-2 and P-4 Sherman Avenue buses that run near the Q Street Giant Food store and points south. Now, in a cost cutting move, Metro is proposing to reroute those buses a block west on 11th Street NW except during rush hour.

Metro officials said the rerouting during off-peak hours will make it possible to run more buses more often down 11th Street. Instead of every 15 minutes, the 11th Street buses would run every eight minutes.

"It would improve service," said Marilyn Dicus, a Metro spokeswoman.

It also would save Metro an estimated $800,000 a year, said Matthew S. Watson, a Metro board member.

But some older residents complain that an extra block is a considerable distance. And because the nearest 11th Street stop is at Fairmont, the change will mean an extra two-block walk for Burton.

"It's a hardship," Burton said. "Sometimes I can walk but not too well. My legs cramp a lot."

More than 150 residents have signed a petition requesting that Metro reconsider the proposal. On Tuesday, representatives from the Ward 1 Council are scheduled to meet with Metro officials to ask them to continue service down Sherman Avenue during off-peak hours.

"We hear what is said but one has to weigh the total functioning of the system," said Metro's Watson. "Every rider is important but one can't structure the bus routes for a small number of individual riders or you would have bus routes on every street in the city."

The $800,000 saving would come as Metro is considering an 18 percent bus and rail minimum fare increase to offset rising fuel costs and falling ridership. It would be the bigget increase in the minimum fare since rail service began in 1976.

Metro officials said the final decision on the K-4 and P-2 buses would be made in April.

If approved, the changes take effect in June after the Metrorail Green Line opens May 11. Metro officials said they routinely reexamine bus routes when a new rail station opens.

But some Cardozo residents said losing the off-peak bus service would be devastating to their neighborhood.

"I don't think it's fair to our senior citizens. I don't think it's fair to our single-parent families," said Shelore Williams, an advisory neighborhood commissioner for the area. "If it is convenient . . . why change it?"

Many nearby seniors said they no longer drive and cannot afford taxicabs to go shopping and to church.

"We don't think it's fair," said Lillian C. Ruffin, 66, who has lived in the area for 20 years. "For some of our senior citizens it's going to be a hardship because some can hardly stand. They have to get around."

Madelyn Hawkins, 90, who lives in the 1000 block of Euclid Street NW, has arthritis and walks with a cane.

"I can't walk very far and I can't do any standing," she said. "I prefer they leave it {the way it is}. Leave it so I can get around."

Some residents also said they sometimes were afraid to walk on 11th Street or stand on nearby Georgia Avenue to catch a bus. Still others expressed lingering resentment about the days when they could not even catch one of the many buses went past their doors. For years, the only buses that went down Sherman Avenue NW were express buses transporting Maryland commuters to and from Silver Spring.

"To see this happen again, they think people just don't have the ability to think or remember," said Dolores Tucker, a resident of the 3000 block of Sherman Avenue NW, who gave her age as "over 60."

Mary Christian, 68, a Cardozo resident who rides the bus every day, agreed. "It means everything to senior citizens around in this neighborhood."