Mass transit in the Washington DC Region is in desperate need of improvements. Unfortunately, leaders at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the transit authority that operates the DC Metro, are focused instead on further service cuts and fare hikes.
The DC Metro was once considered among the best mass transit systems in the world. Today, it is in perpetual crisis. From serious safety issues like fires and derailments, to declining customer satisfaction due to chronic delays and overcrowding, to financial problems like a $10 billion dollar capital deficit (10 years), a $1 billion operating deficit in the next year and a recent credit downgrade, our mass transit system is in terrible shape. Worst of all, but perhaps unsurprisingly, WMATA has reported an 11% decline in ridership.
A loss of riders is the worst sign of a transit systems health. The DC Metro system is tipping toward the “Public Transit Death Spiral.”
Riders are leaving the system because it is unreliable. This has led to budget shortfalls. These budget shortfalls are why the WMATA Board is calling for future fare increases and service cuts. If this proposal passes, the fare increases and services cuts will push more people out of public transit. This will likely result in more fare increase and service cuts.
Better mass transit is possible. If we; the riders, transit workers, environmentalists, civil and disability rights organizations, non-profits that advocate for the unemployed, low-waged service, retail, and professional workers; fight for it, we can save it. In fact, if we look around the country we see that together, we can improve Metro transit.
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