RELEASE: Coalition for Smarter Growth praises proposed WMATA budget, and calls for increased frequency

Press Statement
For Immediate Release
October 28, 2018

Stewart Schwartz, (703) 599-6437
Aimee Custis, (202) 431-7185

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As reported in the Washington Postproposed changes to WMATA’s upcoming budget, released this morning, Mon., Oct. 29, include “a flat $2 fare for subway trips taken on weekends, expanding the rush-hour window to include later times on weekday mornings and evenings and increase all trains to their maximum length of eight cars.”

“The improvements put forth in the coming fiscal year budget by General Manager Wiedefeld represent an important step in the right direction,” says Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, a leading pro-transit advocacy organization in the D.C. region.

“This spring, when the region stepped up to pass $500 million of new dedicated funding for WMATA, it was a show of how important frequent, reliable transit service is. A cold reality, however, is that that $500 million is for capital improvements, not for day-to-day operations,” says Schwartz. “With this budget, elected officials have a chance to take another step toward bringing WMATA back to the operational level of service our region needs.”

WMATA is critical to the D.C. region’s economy: It provides access to jobs and services for people at all levels of the workforce, and attracts and retains employers. CSG believes that $20 million in additional jurisdictional commitment is not too steep a price to pay for the improvements recommended by Wiedefeld.

However, a continual topic of concern is the systemically reduced frequency of off-peak and weekend service. This is not addressed in the general manager’s proposal. “While the reduced weekend fare is welcome, better still for ridership would be an increase in frequency,” says Schwartz. “We’d like to better understand whether alternate approaches to maintenance could allow for reduced single-tracking.”

Nonetheless, this proposed package of service improvements is a welcome and needed signal that WMATA recognizes the importance of competitive fares and service to attract and retain its riders.

“We hope that constituents will respond by communicating to their elected officials — and the WMATA board members those officials appoint — the importance of frequent, reliable transit service, as well as the need to provide sufficient operating funds to support this expansion of service,” says Schwartz.