The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority released a budget proposal that would make drastic cuts to public transportation in Washington, D.C., affecting several bus routes servicing the Georgetown neighborhood.
The proposal would also eliminate all weekend Metrorail service, stop weekday service at 9 p.m. and lengthen wait times between rides. These cuts come as the Metro faces a funding gap of almost $500 million dollars, with ridership hovering around just 20 to 25% of pre-pandemic rates as more people work from home and avoid public transportation out of fear of exposure to the coronavirus.
Under this new plan, Route D1 (Glover Park-Franklin Square Line) and Route G2 (P Street-LeDroit Park Line) would be fully eliminated. Route D2 (Glover Park-Dupont Circle Line) would be eliminated and partially replaced by service on the Massachusetts Avenue line.
These potential cuts highlight the pressing need for federal aid, according to Mayor Muriel Bowser (D).
“Not too long ago with our partners in the region and our federal government, we put Metro on the right track to meet the needs of residents and visitors alike,” Bowser said in a statement to WUSA9 on Nov. 30. “Regardless of party or ideology, we must once again come together to save Metro.”
Bowser’s call for increased federal funding comes after WMATA received $876 million in federal funding through a coronavirus aid package in May. In July, American Public Transportation Association President and CEO Paul Skoutelas stated that a relief package including at least $32 billion dedicated to supporting public transit would be crucial to the survival of the industry.
The Georgetown community will be hit hard by these service line cuts, according to Alex Taliadoros, organizing director of Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor.
“We are losing nearly all of the Metrobus lines near campus and will also be hurt by the reduced hours and loss of weekend service for Metrorail,” Taliadoros wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Georgetown already suffered from not having a nearby Metro station, and this will sever our ties to public transit.”
Taliadoros opposed planned service changes in February when WMATA announced plans to merge bus routes G2 and D2 and move the bus stop at the front gates of Georgetown’s campus six blocks away. After receiving pushback from university officials and local residents, WMATA reversed its decision and preserved the G2 bus route.
University administrators are paying close attention to the situation, according to Heidi Tseu, director of local government affairs in Georgetown’s Office of Community Engagement.
“We are tracking this issue closely and will monitor how these proposed changes might impact the university and our community,” Tseu wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Ensuring access to reliable public transportation is important to a wide range of people in our university community, and we will continue to work with the city and our community partners as this develops.”
The university should continue work with WMATA and Congress to remedy the impact of these cuts. If these changes are implemented, Georgetown should work to provide support and flexibility to campus workers, as nearly all of Georgetown’s hourly campus workers live in other areas of D.C. or in the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia, according to Taliadoros.
“These cuts threaten Georgetown workers’ livelihood in obstructing their ability to come to campus and burden them financially by forcing them to rely on more expensive transit options,” Taliadoros wrote.