DC Council Fights With Metro Over Cutting Late Night Service

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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The D.C. Council will attempt to restore late night service to the Metro in a meeting with top transit officials over the contentious proposal to permanently close early.

Officials with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) are meeting with the D.C. Council Tuesday to discuss late night service. Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld proposed to close the system permanently at midnight after SafeTrack repairs conclude to give workers the necessary time to keep the system running. Wiedefeld argues the system will never function well again if crews don’t have more time for maintenance, reports WTOP.

The proposal was met with a whirlwind of public backlash and criticism from the D.C. Council. Even Council member and Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans expressed disagreement with the proposal, fearing for the impact on small businesses. Evans is expected to introduce an emergency Sense of the Council resolution Tuesday to restore late night service back to 3 a.m. after SafeTrack finishes next year.

D.C. Metro officials released three proposals in September that close the system early, however none proved popular with the public. Two of the proposals pushed closing back to 11:30 p.m. on weekdays. Another proposal delayed opening the Metro on Sundays until 8 a.m., instead of the usual 7 a.m. start time.

“The additional track time increases safety and reliability by giving workers the time and space they need to keep Metro’s infrastructure in a state of good repair,” Wiedefeld told NBC4 in July.

Small businesses in Washington, D.C., are already losing employees and profits because of midnight Metro closures from SafeTrack. Many restaurants in the D.C. metropolitan area have experienced a 20 percent drop in sales since the track maintenance began, according to the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.

The biggest effect is on the employees who cannot afford peak Uber or taxi prices to get home after a 2 a.m. closing.

“Most of the concern goes to the employees,” Beggiato Tommaso, general manager of The Darlington House restaurant in Northwest, D.C., told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Some people will have to quit when the busy season picks up in the fall. I’m sure it will have repercussions on us.”

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