Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., unanimously signed a resolution Tuesday instructing Metro officials to restore late night service after repairs are complete.
Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld is adamant that work crews need an additional eight hours a night for the necessary repairs to keep the system running. Wiedefeld proposed permanently closing the transit system at midnight, even after SafeTrack repairs conclude. The proposal was met with fierce public criticism from residents and city officials worried about the potential impact it would have on the local economy, reports The Washington Post.
Council member Jack Evans, who also chairs the Metro Board, made his opposition to permanent early closings clear at a hearing Tuesday.
“If you want to find an additional eight hours somewhere else, that’s fine,” Evans said at the hearing, according to The Washington Post. “But they don’t come at the cost of these hours.”
Evans and the entire D.C. Council want the transit service to be available until 3 a.m. after SafeTrack concludes. The system has been closing at midnight every night since repair work began in June. 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., previously 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.”
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.
Council Chairman Phil Mendelson proposed a model based on the current safety surge approach of SafeTrack. He argued Metro can continue to conduct targeted maintenance to keep the system safe without inconveniencing the entire region.
Metro officials will hold a public hearing on the matter Oct. 20.
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