D.C. Metro's Proposed Service Cuts Would Disproportionately Affect Communities of Color

Planning and urbanism writers in Washington, D.C. agree that a proposal to cut service to 20 stations in the Metrorail system would have harmful effects for minorities in the region.
October 18, 2016, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"One cost-saving scenario Metro staff presented last week in discussions about how the agency might balance its budget includes closing 20 low-ridership stations during off-peak hours; Maryland and Virginia have seven stations each and six are in the District.

"Many of the stations are clustered on the eastern ends of the Silver, Blue, Orange and Green lines, in Prince George’s County and east of the Anacostia River in the District," adds Powers, before noting that all of these neighborhoods are home to communities of color.

Among the observers upset by the proposal was Metro board member Malcolm Augustine, who represents Prince George's. Powers describes Augustine as "livid" at the implications of the proposal.

Kriston Capps also noticed the troubling implications of the proposal in a post for CityLab, and added ridership figures to the evidence in the case against the proposal:

These stations may be Metro outliers for their lower ridership numbers. But throughout the system, mid-day ridership often rivals the morning or evening rush hours. (At no station does off-peak ridership beat both.) For stations east of the river, though, mid-day ridership accounts for a larger share of overall trips. Riders who use these stations, though relatively fewer in number, would be disproportionately inconvenienced by these specific service cuts.

Jonathan Neeley also analyzed the proposed service cuts, describing the proposal as draconian, harmful, and potentially harmful to Metro's already damaged reputation. In that post, Neeley also surveys the rest of Greater Greater Washington's writers for their opinion on the proposal, finding a chorus of consternation.

At least one potentially powerful federal regulation stands in the way of the proposed service cuts. The Powers article under discussion at the top of this post concludes with a reminder that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act requires "transit agencies enacting such significant changes in service [to] prepare an 'equity analysis.'" 

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Published on Monday, October 17, 2016 in The Washington Post
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