News & Politics

A WMATA Survey Is Asking About Service Cuts, Tolerance for Breakdowns, and Reduced Hours

"Would you rather?," Metro edition.

Photograph by Lauren Bulbin

A new Metro survey is drawing scorn for asking riders about just what kind of service cuts they’d prefer in 2022, when WMATA’s budget will likely be cut due to diminished ridership during the pandemic. Longer gaps between trains? Earlier station closings? Train breakdowns? Your call! 

“Metro is working with its Congressional delegation to secure additional funding to continue providing service as the region comes back to work,” WMATA said in a statement. “But service cuts remain a looming threat, and Metro must plan accordingly.”

The questionnaire floats seven proposals, none of which are sure to be very popular with riders. One is that trains would run every 30 minutes, including during rush hour. Another suggests closing 19 stations with low ridership if there is another station nearby (that number would grow to 22 if the second phase of the Silver Line opens by next January). A third possibility would be to close Metro at 9 PM instead of 11 PM (a huge blow to restaurant workers). 

One alarming question asks whether customers would rather prioritize safety and maintenance or increased service. “Provide more service, even if things break sometimes,” one answer choice reads. “Provide all the service you can, I can adjust to break-downs and delays,” says another. 

“This supposed tradeoff is absurd,” one Twitter user responded. “A frequent system can also be a safe system.”