FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2016
Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director
Statement on Metro GM’s proposal for permanent early closure
WASHINGTON DC—Today, at the WMATA Board meeting, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld presented his proposal to make permanent the closing of Metrorail at 10 pm on Sundays and at midnight every other night. He first announced his proposal in a Monday press release.
“Metro, and its late-night service, has been critical to the revitalization of the District of Columbia and older inner suburbs. It’s supported billions of dollars in real estate investment, vibrant restaurants and nightlife, and provided essential transportation for hourly workers who depend on Metrorail to get to and from nighttime employment,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “We are strong supporters of the General Manager, but are nevertheless deeply concerned about the potential negative impacts of this proposal.”
“This is one of those issues that will require having all of the information on the table and significant public input,” said Schwartz. “The public and officials will certainly need to consider the recommendations that WMATA received from the GM, rail experts and peer transit agencies, and the relative benefits for maintenance and rehabilitation of the system. At the same time, we urge the agency and local jurisdictions to provide the information necessary to evaluate the economic impact on business and workers, the demographics of those who will be affected by the change, and the origins and destinations of late night Metro riders.”
“Regional leaders must evaluate alternative approaches, including whether this can be achieved through targeted closings on a rolling basis, as track work is often handled today. WMATA and local jurisdictions should also evaluate the potential for effective after-hours “Night-Owl” service – with buses running on routes parallel to the Metro lines. With this information in hand, the WMATA Board, regional elected officials and the public will be better able to evaluate the proposal,” said Schwartz.
As a new TransitCenter study pointed out last week, riders want frequent and reliable service above all else. They conclude that frequent transit networks are essential to maintaining and growing ridership and are most successful where they attract “all-purpose” riders. TransitCenter concludes that “frequent transit networks in walkable neighborhoods, … reduce reliance on cars, spark economic growth, and create the vibrant urban places we know and love.”
“Frequent, reliable transit service is vital to the prosperity of the Washington DC region, and we hope we can find an alternative that meets both maintenance and customer needs,” concluded Schwartz.
About the Coalition for Smarter Growth
The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Its mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more at smartergrowth.net.