Public transit in DC isn’t perfect — but it’s a heck of a lot better than it used to be. George Washington would hardly recognize the modern-day trip between Virginia and DC — back then the carriage trip from Alexandria into the capital could take several hours. Now it takes under 30 minutes on the Blue Line.
Whatever annoyances commuters experience today, it’s still better than the rutted roads and hard carriage rides of the past. And DC should be proud of its track records of continually improving public transit options — from the opening of the Blue Line in 1977, to the soon-to-open Silver Line.
Perhaps that’s why the cuts to Blue Line service feel especially frustrating. Though Metro’s slogan is “Moving Forward”, the service cuts ensure that future riders will have a harder time getting around on the Blue Line than we do right now. Like a train car stopped on the elevated track at Reagan National Airport, with these cuts Metro will be slowly slipping backwards in the direction we have come. We’ve made too much progress to be going backwards now.
Worse is that we don’t NEED to be going backwards — it’s possible to more efficiently allocate the trains through the tunnel while still accommodating the new Silver Line and staying within the Rosslyn Tunnel capacity. Metro can’t build a new bridge or tunnel to DC overnight (though they should probably start planning now), but sensible allocation of trains is something Metro can do right now with the equipment and facilities they already have. We’ve poured billions of dollars into developing a transit system to connect DC, Maryland and Virginia, and in doing so we’ve given commuters viable alternatives of getting around, and helped take cars off the roads of our congested highways. With our proud history of improving public transit, it’s so important that we keep moving forward.