At first, she turned away from me.
The last thing Triana wanted to do at the end of a long day was talk to a stranger. A dude with a clip board, that is never a good sign.
I said, "Did you know they are trying to cut the buses?"
When Triana heard that, she swiveled around toward me on the bus bench. As she took the flyer out of my hand she shook her head. Behind the plexiglass bus shelter of the Rockville train station, the MetroRail began it's squeaky departure back to the city.
Triana, a 52 year old nurse at George Washington University Hospital, sighed, "If they change the schedule, I could lose my job."
Triana catches the first Ride On bus every day from Gaithersberg to catch the MetroRail to DC. She said that she also depends on another MetroBus to visit her mother on her days off.
Mrs. Nancy Kowac was sitting nearby and overheard our conversation. She told us how frustrating it is to hear about any cuts. Mrs. Kowak, a retiree from Germantown, said, "They are always trying to cut public transit, but that would make it worse for everyone."
Though neither of them could attend the Town Hall that night, they shared the sentiments that a dozen more transit riders would share at the event: Maryland officials need to prevent service cuts, fare increases, repair the system we have and expand the system in the future.
Mrs. Kowak handed me her phone and asked me to sign her up to our text messaging service (text A4T to 33733).
Siggy also had a warm reception on the other side of the transit terminal.
We walked over to the meeting location to set up with ATU staff Katie Traber and David Stephen and IAF Organizer, Amy Vruno.
Soon the room was full and ATU Local 689 President, Jackie Jeter informed us about what would happen if the cuts proposed by the WMATA board were enacted:
B27 Bus would be eliminated. Route B30 to BWI Airport, which helps hundreds of low-waged workers get to work, will be slashed and travelers will lose options. The C8 from College Park to Flint Line, which meets all requirements to be considered a viable route will be reduced and shortened to save money, leaving thousands of people per year with no way to travel. Life for riders on the C and H Routes will slow down. Riders of J1, J5, J7, J9, P17, P18 and P19 would lose all of their service. The same would happen to the two W Bus Routes. There are too many cuts and eliminations to even list. You can download a complete list here.
Riders lined up to share their feelings about the proposals. (At this point I tried to add photos of the riders that testified. Unfortunately, this is very difficult to do on nationbuilder. You can see them on my twitter feed here- https://twitter.com/fabriciorodrix )
We heard from Mr. Carter who has been riding the 5:15 am, Z bus for the last 18 years. He is worried about how he will get to work.
Ronit Dancis told us about how many workers depend on the buses that are slated to be cut. She is a leader of Montgomery County Action Committee for Transit as has committed to organizer with Americans for Transit to prevent the cuts.
Another transit dependent rider, Mr. Barrett told us that the substitutes that are proposed to make up for the elimination of the 37 bus will not help him. He will miss his connecting bus and this will add up to an hour to his trip.
Most of the proposed eliminations and cut backs are to bus lines that connect people-of-color and the poor in the inner suburbs to the jobs downtown. As things are right now, future improvements such as the Priority Corridor Network to expand bus service are off the table.
We need to stop the service cuts and fare increases and fight for more transit, repairs to existing service, more regional transit and dedicated funding!