Doomsday Scenario Leads to Massive Service Cuts From WMATA

Anyone paying attention to the state of WMATA knew this was coming, but even they will likely be surprised: the transit agency is proposing massive service cuts to balance its FY2022 budget.

And don’t think GM is just being dramatic here. If anything, “massive” undersells how devastating these cuts would be. They would fundamentally devastate the entire public transit model for the DC region. Metrorail trains would come every half hour during the week. They would be completely shut down all weekend long. Nineteen stations would simply be closed entirely.

And buses–which are critical for Georgetowners–would hardly be spared. Half the routes would simply be cancelled. Since this is a budget document, it does not actually lay out which lines would be cut. But we’ve been down a similar road recently, and multiple Georgetown lines were on the chopping block then. With a true bloodbath like WMATA is now proposing, though, we’d be extremely lucky to escape with only those cuts.

And this is not simply a series of service cuts to tide us through the pandemic. They wouldn’t even go into effect until next July and are premised on a scenario that riders will actually have already started to return by then. This is simply a clear-eyed accounting of what the agency would have to do given the crash in revenues it faced since March.

In one way, this should be seen as a screaming red flag of what would have to happen if Congress doesn’t act to provide another round of stimulus, including money for transit agencies. In another, more accurate way this should be seen as what is actually going to happen because getting more stimulus funding requires the support of senators who believe, among other things, that it’s a great idea to be maskless in a Sioux Falls choir practice right now.

DC simply cannot function without mass transit, but sadly, barring two miracles in Georgia, our country is under the thumb of a political party that rejoices when DC simply cannot function. GM wishes he had some glimmer of hope to offer, but he’s all out.

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