Last Thursday night, a group of riders attended WMATA’s Rider Advisory Council (RAC) meeting to share their experiences regarding the poor level of service provided to the Blue Line.
The meetings start off with a public comment period, where riders described the recent issues with the Blue Line including the overcrowding, the long waits, the rush-hour fares for non rush-hour service, and the general neglect that WMATA has shown towards the line. We brought pictures and data, a printout of the names of the over 500 people who signed the petition, as well as a basic fact sheet outlining the key aspects of the problems.
Also at the meeting was Lynn Bowersox, the Assistant General Manager of WMATA, who presented to the RAC Metro’s soon-to-be launched plan to increase public participation and engagement with Metro. After her presentation, riders asked her about Metro’s non-response thus far, and questioned her about how Metro plans to incorporate the extensive public feedback that Blue Line riders have already been expressing about the cuts.
Because the RAC is an advisory committee, they do not make the decisions about service but are important advocates for rider concerns. Members of the council noted that they expressed concerned about WMATA’s plans for the Blue Line for over a year and thanked the riders at the meeting for the pictures, statistics and personal stories that we provided, which corroborated their concerns.
Key Outcomes of the meeting
(1) The Riders Advisory Council unanimously passed a resolution asking Metro to collect and provide data on ridership and crowding statistics for the Blue, Orange, and Silver line over the first month of Silver Line operations. This will allow them to have additional data to discuss at their meeting next month. We plan to attend that meeting to ensure that the issue of Blue Line overcrowding and poor service remains on the agenda.
(2) While Lynn Bowersox did not express optimism about a Blue Line solution, she agreed to set up a meeting with us, Metro’s rider operations, and Metro’s planning division to discuss why WMATA made the choices that they did, and to discuss alternate solutions that may better meet the needs of Blue Line riders. Once that meeting occurs, we will update supporters on the outcome in a blog post
While we were encouraged by the progress made at the meeting, it is important to continue to write to metro, sign the petition, and let others know to speak up to Metro. This will ensure that the issue remains on the mind of both the RAC and Metro.