President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package may help keep bus stops and bus routes that serve the Georgetown neighborhood open despite fiscal year 2022 service cuts proposed by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
WMATA’s current proposed changes would significantly impact three bus routes around Georgetown, eliminating Route G2 (P Street-LeDroit Park Line), Route D2 (Glover Park-Dupont Circle Line) and Route D6 (Sibley Hospital-Stadium-Armory Line) for the second half of fiscal year 2022 from January to June 2022. A modified Route N6 (Massachusetts Avenue Line) would replace some of these lines’ services. Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, the American Rescue Plan, allocates $1.4 billion to Washington, D.C. transit agencies, however. WMATA anticipates that this funding will prevent previously proposed service cuts and layoffs.
Taking into account feedback from the public, Metro plans to vote on a revised FY22 budget in April, according to Metro Board of Directors Chair Paul Smedberg.
“Congress has once again stepped up to address the needs of Metro and the regional transit systems that will be critical to our region’s economic recovery,” Smedberg said in a statement. “While it will take more time to work out all the details, including Metro’s exact share of this funding, the $1.4 billion provided by the American Recovery Plan for our region’s transit agencies will allow us to avert the painful service reductions and layoffs that were on the table.”
Biden’s relief package would also direct aid to Americans through stimulus payments, enhanced unemployment aid and expanded child tax credit. The legislation also allocates money for coronavirus testing and vaccinations and support for small businesses, state and local governments.
WMATA held a public comment period ending March 16 during which Christopher Murphy (LAW ’98), vice president for government relations and community engagement at Georgetown University, submitted feedback advocating for bus routes important to Georgetown community members.
Given the vaccine rollout’s progress, WMATA’s plans should reflect potential increases in demand for public transportation in Georgetown, according to Murphy.
“We urge that WMATA’s FY22 budget will ensure Metrobus service levels that meet the needs of the Georgetown community as we anticipate a return to full operations,” Murphy wrote in a letter to WMATA obtained by The Hoya. “We are very concerned that the proposed budget’s service levels do not account for the likelihood that the University and local public and private K-12 schools will see an increase, if not full restoration, of in-person learning all at once around August to September.”
The Georgetown University Transportation Shuttle provides free bus services for Georgetown University and Medstar Georgetown University Hospital community members. These GUTS buses connect Georgetown’s campus with the Rosslyn and Dupont Circle Metro stations, the Georgetown University Law Center campus and university offices on Wisconsin Avenue.
WMATA service makes up for service gaps in university-provided transport, according to Clay Volino (SFS ’22), GUSA transportation policy chair.
“Having strong bus service is important to students and even more important to faculty and staff at Georgetown,” Volino said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “The G2 is also one of the only transportation options to campus on Sundays as well as on Saturdays when GUTS bus service is more limited to nonexistent.”
The G2 line is particularly important for students who rely on public transit to commute to campus, according to Jordan Brown (COL ’21).
“Nearly every other route (D2, 30S, 30N, 33, 31, etc.) forces me to walk 10+ minutes to get to campus,” Brown wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Walking 10 minutes through Georgetown slows me down when I’m trying to get to class in the morning, but for many other people, it can be fully inaccessible due to disabilities.”
Along with providing transportation to Georgetown’s campus, Route G2 grants Georgetown community members important access to other D.C. neighborhoods, according to Advisory Neighborhood 2E Commissioner Kishan Putta.
“The G2 bus is very important to our community. It, for decades, has connected Georgetown University with many parts of the city, including Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, Shaw, which are neighborhoods which are really booming now with commercial activities and jobs and opportunities and which is really important for our community to be connected to,” Putta said in a phone interview with The Hoya.
These routes are important because they offer students the opportunity to explore areas beyond Georgetown, according to Brown.
“The ‘Georgetown bubble’ is so real – most students have no idea what DC is like beyond the Hilltop or Georgetown the neighbourhood,” Brown wrote. “If we had more public transit in the neighbourhood, I think it would encourage more students to get out into the city.”
Despite WMATA’s statements about the impact of the $1.4 billion relief, WMATA’s current plan will become effective Jan. 1, 2022 if additional funding is not secured, according to WMATA’s website.
People need to mobilize to ensure the G2 line is preserved, according to Brown.
“I don’t think the administration or the community is doing enough this time around because so few people are in DC and they think it’s a non-issue, but many community members — especially the workers that keep campus running — depend on public transit to get to Georgetown,” Brown wrote. “We need to keep the G2 running.”
Hoya Staff Writer Ella Kohler contributed reporting.