DC leaders want Metro to restore late night rail service

- The D.C. Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser say they are opposed to Metro’s proposal to cut late night train service permanently during weekends.

Metro's management says eliminating late night service hours is necessary so the transit system can get more time to perform maintenance. But D.C. leaders say Metro rail service is simply too important to cut as it has affected workers who rely on it in addition to the decrease in business since SafeTrack began.

FOX 5 has learned next week that the council will vote on and send emergency resolution to Metro's board seeking for Metro to operate until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and until midnight on Sunday.

Mayor Bowser is backing the council on this and she says workers need to have a way to get home and points out closing early will be a regional problem – not just in Washington D.C.

“I think that a city like ours – a world class capital city – that you have to have a mass transit system that goes a lot of places and operates as long as the city is open,” said Bowser. “We know that people work in our city at all hours and they are not just Washingtonians. We have people coming into buildings like this and cleaning, for example, that work well into the [early] hours in the morning, and many of them travel out to the counties where they live."

Kathy E. Hollinger, president and CEO of Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, says business is down 20 percent due to Metro's ongoing SafeTrack program that has cut the transit system's late night hours.

“The restaurant industry and its patrons are uniquely impacted by the current SafeTrack schedule, as well as the four proposals put forward by the Metro Board," Hollinger said in a statement. "We have surveyed member restaurants and have learned that sales are down as much as 20% due to early metro closures and the current SafeTrack schedule not to mention employee schedules and commutes have been negatively impacted as they tend to commute during non-typical hours. While we recognize the utmost importance of maintaining a safe Metro system, it is critical that the dynamic nature of the restaurant and foodservice industry, its patrons and employees are considered as Metro contemplates alternate schedules. This issue is front of mind for these local restaurants and small businesses, and we are proactively working with the restaurant community to ensure their concerns are addressed and if possible provide recommendations where appropriate.”

The mayor and several council members say they understand the need for more maintenance and SafeTrack, but with the Washington Nationals playing in the postseason, they say Metro should be open during important events.

“Metro shouldn’t have a one-size fits all policy when it comes to special events,” Bowser said. “Either the board or the general manager needs to have a way to make exceptions where they are warranted.”

The council will vote on this emergency resolution next week.

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