Washington isn’t Los Angeles, and Metro isn’t a commuter rail operator. BeyondDC admits we’ve never been to the City of Angels and don’t exactly know how Los Angelinos view their one Metro line, but here in DC the Metro is the backbone of our transportation system. It does an awfully good job of moving commuters, but it is first and foremost an urban subway. Without Metro, this city doesn’t function. It doesn’t matter how much money it would save to do so, eliminating late-night service is simply not an option. This is old news; a couple of years ago then-CEO Dick White cut late night service and ran only two-car trains every 20 minutes. It was a disaster. Trains at 2:00 am were packed like the Orange line at rush hour. And by the way, partly because of his inability to respond to customer needs, Dick White isn’t the CEO of WMATA anymore.
Actually this is even older news that that. This is a lesson that should have been learned decades ago, back in the years of the streetcar decline: You can’t cut service and expect there to be no backlash. If you raise fares, people complain but ultimately keep riding. If you cut service, people stop riding. If you do both, as Catoe plans to do in a year or two, you may as well take a job with General Motors.
Mr. Catoe: We know you’re a bus guy. We like that about you. We hired you to fix our buses. But don’t you dare do it at the expense of our subway, and don’t think for a second that any of us buy the line that buses are as good as trains. They’re not even in the best of circumstances. Cutting late night service, even if buses are provided to mitigate the cuts, is the worst idea to come out of WMATA that BeyondDC can ever remember. The answer is No. No. Find the money somewhere else.
If this post is a bit meandering or lacks cohesion, it’s because we’re simply flabbergasted that we have to write it. This proposal should have been shot down the second after it was made. That is survived to reach the blogosphere is indefensible.