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DC Businesses Fear Profit Devastation As Metro Plans Permanent Early Closings

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Businesses in the Washington, D.C. region are blasting a proposal to permanently close the D.C. Metro early every night of the week, arguing it will devastate profits already suffering due to early closings from SafeTrack repairs.

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld announced plans to close the Metro at 10 p.m. on Sundays and at midnight Mondays through Saturdays on a permanent basis when SafeTrack repairs are completed. The proposal is igniting a firestorm of criticism from local restaurant owners and even the Washington Nationals, reports The Washington Post.

Many restaurants in the D.C. metropolitan area have experienced a 20 percent drop in sales due to SafeTrack repairs, which close the system everyday at midnight, significantly affecting profit margins. Before SafeTrack began, the transit system stayed open until 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

“While we have supported the changes necessary to ensure the system’s safety, any permanent change that would negatively impact the ability of our fans to get to and from Nationals Park is very concerning,” a spokesman for the Washington Nationals told The Washington Post. “In a world-class city such as Washington, we feel strongly that Metro should offer late-night service every night of the week. This proposal – if approved – would move our city in the wrong direction.”

The contentious proposal will need approval from the Metro board, which will vote on the matter this fall. Metro Chair and Council Member Jack Evans is already expressing skepticism at the proposal, as is Mayor Muriel Bowser, who said it would negatively impact working families and small businesses.

Wiedefeld is following recommendations from rail experts who say transit workers need the extra time to conduct maintenance and ensure the systems longevity.

“I know the issue is finding track time,” Evans told The Washington Post. “I know that makes sense today. But I don’t know if that makes sense a year from now, and forever.”

Wiedefeld will formally present the proposal to the D.C. Metro board Thursday.

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