It was incorrectly indicated in yesterday's Washington Post that Metro Bus No. 32 had undergone a route change as a result of changes in the bus scheduling. That bus route in fact has not changed, according to a Metro spokeswoman, although many passengers assumed it had.
At 5:45 a.m. yesterday, after Metro Bus No.32 hissed to a halt at the corner of Southern Avenue and 23d Street SE. some of the waiting riders hissed back.
"How come ya'll changed our route?" screamed one woman, in mock horror, to the bus driver who apparently was not a stranger. "Ya'll do it to us pear folk, every time. Raise our fare, mess up our schedules. Don't do them white folks like that, do ya?"
The other riders laughed, added a few "right on's," and began sheiling out extra coins and searching for crumpied subway fare cards in preparation for the much talked about "drop off," or "damp off," as it has come to be known.
Under a full moon, moving along quiet streets, the No. 32 left its stop at Shipley Terrace, half-filled with domestic workers, construction workers, nurses, maintenance men, a sleepy man with a greasy brown paper bag tucked under his arm, and a woman who had arrived at the bus stop in a Porsche.
The bus was alive with chatter, mostly about the change in the passengers' bus routes and increase in their fares that had combined to upset an early morning routine that few felt would be made much worse.
For many of these riders, like Southeast Washington residents who take the bus to downtown, the rise in bus fare plus mandatory transfer to the subway will cause financial inconveniences.
"The way I figure, I'll have to pay about $5 extra a week," said Margaret Payton, who lives in the Shipley Terrace Apartments. "I guess with everything else going up in price I can't do anything about it. I know $5 don't sound like much to some people," said the janitor at the Municipal Center, "But it's $5 I need for other things."
The bus rerouting and transfer system has resulted in fare increases of about 10 cents to 20 cents for most riders affected.In Southeast Washington, however, where most riders are black, from lower economic households, the increase in some instances amounts to as much as $1.20 a day.
Rerouting has resulted in some passengers being "dropped off" at Metro subway stations about eight blocks from where they work and for 40 cents extra, the riders say, the subway ride is not worth it.
"This Metro thing is worse than a bus. Why'd they change?" complained Rufus Henley, 62, who works on Independence Avenue. "It's gonna take me longer to walk from the subway to work than ride from home (on the bus) to the subway line.I wouldn't mind paying the extra if I got more service. As it is, I get less. But that's the way they do you when you get old like me."
About 2,000 Southeast Washington residents petitioned the Metro Transit Authority last week asking it not disrupt express bus service in and out of the area.
Rescheduling buses that now travel across the Anacostia River to various government buildings so that they stop at Metro subway stations at RFK Stadium and Potomac Avenue "will pose major hardships" on the residents, the petition said.
"We are the majority of the transit riders and our incomes are the lowest. We have students in service. Some will have to ride three different lines to get to school while at present, one express bus gets them to their destination," the petition said.
Residents also complained that the rerouting now causes some to pay 90 cents for what other riders pay 50 cents.
A spokesman for the Metro Transit Authority said copies of the petition had been sent to D.C. City Council members Jerry Moore and Sterling Tucker, who are expected to review them and make some determination on the rerouting this week.
"I've been waking up at 4 in the morning for 10 years," said Margaret Payton, a nurse. "It took me five to get used to that. Now I guess I have to get up earlier just of figure out where I'm going. I got to work later to pay for it."
Said Carl Simkins, 25, a day laborer, "What difference does it make if we can't we get to work? First you have to beg to get a job then they try to keep you from getting to it. It's all in the Master Plan. My grandfather used to tell me about it. Everybody's included in the plan unless you're black or poor."