Late last night, 65 elected officials from Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties sent an official letter to Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld, urging him to restore Metro’s late night service. This morning, starting at around 9 am, the Metro Board of Directors was set to meet to vote on a proposal to extend the current late night cuts to 2020. DC board members have threatened to veto this proposal, meaning that late night metro hours would return next summer.
The coordinated move from dozens of Maryland officials show that it’s not just DC who is concerned about the continued late night service cuts.
Metro ended late night hours in 2016 saying that it needed the additional time to make necessary repairs to the system. Those cuts were intended to be temporary, and under current policy full service is set to return in July 2019. However, Wiedefeld has asked the Metro Board to extend late night service cuts until 2020, saying that additional time is needed. However, as we pointed out recently, Metro has not been transparent about the exact timeline or nature of these repairs.
Organized by Maryland Delegate David Moon, District 20, officials in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties came together to send the following to Wiedefeld just hours before this morning’s vote:
Dear Mr. Wiedefeld:
We, the undersigned officials from Montgomery & Prince George's counties, write to express our opposition to extending the elimination of late night Metro hours through July 2020. Many of us wrote to you in 2016, when this proposal was first announced, and we cited numerous concerns: hardship for service workers, increased drunk driving, a loss in ridership, and negative impacts on local businesses. We recognize the significant ongoing maintenance needs for Metro, but we believe addressing these needs does not require systemwide service reductions as we have experienced over the past several years.
Our residents and businesses have now made sacrifices for two years, in order to provide ample time for track maintenance. It is now time to try and win back riders with a restoration of service hours, and hopefully a reduction of headways. We want Metro to be both safe and convenient, and we believe the suspension of late night service should end on schedule in July 2019. That does not mean there will not be some late night closures of specific segments or lines for necessary projects, but those should be scheduled and planned.
We thank you for your work in prioritizing safety improvements, and we hope you will now work with us to similarly prioritize improving Metrorail reliability and convenience.
We will also share our concerns with the Maryland Governor's Office, Maryland Secretary of Transportation, and Maryland Board Members, as we recognize that they are our liaisons to you.
Thank you for considering our renewed concerns.
As of writing, 65 elected officials have signed onto this letter: five mayors, six state senators, 28 state delegates, 11 county councilmembers, 14 city councilmembers, and Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. Delegate David Moon shared the letter with us.
Organizers note that signatories were notified only seven hours before the letter was sent, so other supporters might have missed the deadline. Even so, given such a limited amount of time, this wide-spread show of concern from so many levels of government and from multiple jurisdictions is no joke.
Metro’s Board of Directors will likely decide this morning whether or not to extend late night service cuts to 2020. However, WTOP journalist Max Smith is reporting that this item may be pulled from the agenda altogether.
Updates:— Max Smith (@amaxsmith) December 13, 2018
1: @JackEvansWard2 now says he expects hours vote will be pulled from agenda tomorrow
2: MSC Commissioner Robert Bobb not thrilled with statement from MSC staff without a vote from all 6 commissioners https://t.co/vTCzl51M3e https://t.co/zVPhwiXZqN
We’ll see if this letter has any affect this morning or in the future, in particular on any of the Maryland board members.
Full list of signatures: