HYATTSVILLE – Local advocates and elected officials rode the rails Friday night to rail against proposed Metrorail hours changes. Prince George’s Advocates for Community-Based Transit (Prince George’s ACT) members led a late-night Green Line ride from Prince George’s Plaza to Fort Totten and back on Sept. 30 after 10 p.m. to raise awareness about the […]
HYATTSVILLE – Local advocates and elected officials rode the rails Friday night to rail against proposed Metrorail hours changes.
Prince George’s Advocates for Community-Based Transit (Prince George’s ACT) members led a late-night Green Line ride from Prince George’s Plaza to Fort Totten and back on Sept. 30 after 10 p.m. to raise awareness about the impending hours changes and the impacts it would have on residents. Advocates in Montgomery County also led a concurrent ride from Friendship Heights to Rockville on the Red Line.
Lessie Henderson, a co-chair of Prince George ACT, said the goal was to get more riders involved in the right against service reduction.
“What I’m hoping is that it at least sparked awareness to the passengers at the rail stops that it’s okay, you don’t have to be silent,” she said.
Del. Erek Barron (D-24) joined Prince George’s ACT for the ride because the issue is important to his constituents, he said.
“I just felt like, if the constituents are out here, they’re this concerned and have this much energy, then I want to be out here and support them,” Barron said. “Each one of these folks are representing literally tens of thousands of people who are affected by the issue. This will bring more attention to the issue and let folks know that people are out there fighting for the problems that we have with WMATA.”
Del. Carlo Sanchez (D-47B) joined Barron and five ACT Prince George’s members, and Montgomery County Del. Marc Korman took part in that county’s ride.
Sanchez said although he doesn’t have a Metro station in his district, access of transit is vital for the people who live there.
“In talking to people, the one thing that I have heard is that this system is important. SafeTracking alone, some of the other issues we’ve been having in the system, have really impacted people’s lives, so talking about permanent changes to the operation times, it’s getting a lot of buzz,” Sanchez said. “I’ve kind of opened my eyes that I’m representing a large immigrant population that’s dependent on work in the city and night service is hugely important.”
Henderson said many residents rely on Metro to get to and from work, and many do not work typical work hours. Speaking with other riders Friday, she said the suggestion to use ridesharing services like Uber to make up for a lack of train service is too expensive for many.
Sanchez said anything the impacts Metro could have also repercussions for the Purple Line, which would run through his district. The project was already delayed due to a federal judge’s concerns over declining Metro ridership- even though they would be run by separate agencies, they share stations- and Sanchez says his communities are looking forward to the line’s opening.
“There’s really not great access to public transportation in terms of getting to trains. We’re really dependent on bus lines and so that’s why the Purple Line is so important because it gives us that connection to the trains by having a system that will run through the middle of a lot of low-income areas,” he said.
On Monday, Metro released a plan for expanding bus service in the late-night hours if train service is reduced to help riders get around. The Washington Nationals ownership has also reportedly been lobbying the transit agency to return late night hours, with no affect.
A public hearing on Metro’s four proposals for reductions in service hours has been set for Oct. 20 from 12:30 to 10 p.m.
Two of those proposals would keep the midnight closing times for Metrorail, while the others would extend late-night service while pushing opening times later in the morning.
The agency said the reduction is needed to allow maintenance staff adequate time to work on the tracks.