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From the Publisher's Desk...

METRO SERVICE CUTS ARE THE BEGINNING OF THE END

For those who have not been following Metro’s downward spiral saga, presently under serious consideration as a way of saving money — though it won’t save the Metrorail system — are the following cuts: End Yellow Line service to Ft. Totten by terminating at Mt. Vernon Square; cease operating the Yellow Line entirely at 9:30 pm all day on weekends; close the Cardozo/Shaw station’s 10th & U Streets entrance and the Shaw/Howard University station’s 8th & R Streets entrance on weekends; and terminate weekend service at midnight at all stations.

These proposals are not only a slap in the face at us inner-city residents but they are stupid as well. We are astounded — even aghast — that these proposals are being seriously considered. As we were considering how to frame our thoughts for this space we came across an excellent commentary posted on the website of the Mid-City Business Association. What is written there is so well stated that we are sharing it here with our readers, slightly edited for space, as follows:

“These changes represent backwards thinking and would have a devastating impact upon the [areas around the] Shaw, U Street, Columbia Heights, Georgia Avenue and Fort Totten stations, where real estate developments and future ridership are still a work in process. . . .”

“When the Yellow Line extension was approved in 2006, it addressed the failure of WMATA to provide the service that was promised for these stops as part of the original design and spurred continued development. However, the extension does not run during rush hour and the Yellow Line is the shortest route, so it does not have the ridership numbers of other lines, and those numbers are being held up as justification for the cuts.

“These cuts would assure that ridership never reaches its potential as development stalls and property values are impacted by removing half the service to these developing areas, creating long waits at these dense urban centers. . . . The city and WMATA are not considering these long-term impacts when assessing these cuts as proposed.

“These proposed changes also represent a reversion to the days of the subway system [serving primarily] as a weekday commuter rail as opposed to serving as the hub of an urban transportation network. [Ward 1] Councilmember Graham led the fight in the late ‘90s to extend the hours from midnight to 3 a.m. on weekends, stimulating the late-night [activities] and providing a safe alternative to “drunk driving,” and addressing some of the need for parking to be provided at all the venues that remain open [during those times].

“All of the changes proposed . . . would reverse the progress that has been made by WMATA in the last decade to serve the needs of these communities. These changes will inspire more [automobile use by] the urban residents around these stations and more driving trips into the city by visitors to DC’s continuously emerging music and arts scenes, as many shows and activities don’t begin until 10 or 11 p.m. The impacts upon these businesses and the residents that live nearby would be devastating. MPD resources already spread thin, would not be able to cope with the new demands as car break-ins and muggings increase.

“The closure of the eastern entrance of the U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial . . . station is emblematic of this lack of understanding of life around the stops themselves. The eastern entrance opens onto the memorial, a destination for tourists, while also serving the 9:30 Club, Towne Dance Club, [Nellie’s Sports Bar,] and all of the [other establishments in the vicinity along with those] that make up the 9th Street cluster, known as “Little Ethiopia.” These venues are at their peak on weekends and during late night hours, bringing tens of thousands of people to the area on a weekly basis, many of whom [are] using the subway to access the area.”

Copyright (c) 2010 InTowner Publishing Corp. & Mid-City Business Ass’n.. All rights reserved.