Metro GM Pleads With Public To Accept Earlier System Closings

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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The leader of the D.C. Metro is asking lawmakers and residents to “strongly consider” a proposal to end train service after 1 a.m. on weekends.

Paul Wiedefeld, general manager of the D.C. Metro, is pushing hard for amending late night service and closing the system early to allow more time for critical maintenance. Under this proposal, service would end at 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 11 p.m. on Sundays, and at 11:30 p.m. all other nights. The system would also open at 8 a.m. on Sundays, an hour later than usual, reports WTOP.

Officials with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) began closing the system at midnight when SafeTrack repairs started in June and Wiedefeld argues the system must continue to close early after SafeTrack is completed to avoid future deterioration.

“The 1 a.m. option is one I think we should really consider,” Wiedefeld told WTOP after a meeting with officials in Virginia Tuesday. “If you look at the numbers, the ridership by half-hour drops pretty dramatically.”

Wiedefeld is adamant that work crews need an additional eight hours a night for the necessary repairs to keep the system running. He notes that ignored maintenance is what put Metro in their current situation in the first place and cannot be overlooked going forward.

“We are going to do the work; we have to do the work,” Wiedefeld told WTOP. “Whereas I think we may have pushed work off, and pushed it off and pushed it off, we cannot do that because we know where that leads.”

District leaders nearly universally reject proposals from Metro officials that curtail late night service. Mayor Muriel Bowser has consistently voiced opposition to the plan, arguing a major metropolitan city cannot have a transit service that closes so early. Jack Evans, council member and chairman of the Metro Board of Directors, is also opposed to service cuts, fearing for the impact it would have on the local economy.

Metro officials will hold a public hearing on the proposals for service cuts Thursday afternoon.

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