A standing room only crowd of about 300 people listened to a panel of representatives of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) present modified bus routes and ask for comments. The hearing was in the meeting room of the DC Tax and Revenue building at 1101 4th St SW on September 17th.

Route 74, which WMATA started when the Southwest Circulator was cancelled last year, will either be replaced by realignment of the V7 and V8 extension or with reduced frequency and span. Service to Half St would be abandoned. The realignment, coming south, would turn south from I St SW at 6th St, turn east on M St, some busses would turn south on Delaware Ave., go on Canal St. turn west on P St, and north 4th St, back to 4th and M St. The reduced frequency option would also eliminate the service to Half St, going only as far east as 1st St. Low ridership was cited as the reason for the change.

The routes can be found at: http://www.wmata.com/community_outreach/B13-02_landing/DC%20bus%20service%20changes.pdf

Also the 5A line that currently goes from the L’Enfant Plaza metro station to Dulles Airport would be discontinued, or just go from the western end of the new silver Metro line to the Herndon Monroe Park & Ride and Dulles Airport.

ANC 6D Commissioners Ron Mc Bee, Ronda Hamilton, and Andrew Litsky, as well as many others testified in support of the continuation of the 74 bus. This is especially important for the elderly, lower income, and handicapped people who live on the route. The witnesses made many passionate speeches, including one by a woman who had been a student at Gallaudet University for the deaf. She used an interpreter, but she could be heard, as well. The bus is well used and on time on weekday mornings, but the people said that it was often late at other times, making connections to other buses difficult. The deaf woman had a problem getting to her church on Sundays.

Most of the testimony was about Route 74, but others testified about the drastic shortening or elimination of the 5A route. Some commuters from the Herndon Monroe and Wiehle Avenue stations said they depended on it for their commute, and the suggested alternate transportation would add half an hour to their commute each way. Passengers from Southwest will have to travel on two trains and a bus to get to the airport, rather than just hopping on the 5A bus. This is difficult with international luggage.

By: B. K. Lunde

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