Indian Head commuter bus to D.C. cut from service
WMATA cites low ridership as reason for cancelling
Indian Head and Charles County have become a casualty of budget cuts for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority. On July 1, the authority will begin making route and budget cuts while increasing fares to balance out its budget.
The W19 bus, which serves as Indian Head’s only bus route into the District of Columbia, will be cut out of service. The bus traveled to Southern Avenue Metro Station and back in the morning and evening.
Without WMATA’s ser vice, Indian Head residents will either have to drive into the city or travel to Waldorf to use the Maryland Transit Authority’s bus service into
Indian Head Mayor Brandon Paulin said the town is working in conjunction with the Southern Maryland Tri-County Council to find solutions, but said nothing had been finalized as of yet.
“We have been looking into alternatives,” Paulin said. “I’ve worked closely with Tri-County Council to try and get things done.”
Paulin said he and Tri-County officials appeared
at WMATA budget hearings, but said he did not know if their advocacy would ultimately change things for the bus line.
Paulin said he has specifically worked with George Clark and Nicki Spires, both transportation officials at Tri-County Council, to seek solutions for replacing the bus line to Washington.
The meetings were “a bit lonely,” Paulin said, with no county officials from Charles County in the room. The line travels through Prince George’s County, he said, but is also used by
the Charles County residents of Indian Head.
Paulin said he forwarded the meeting dates for WMATA’s budget hearings in early January, but had not gotten much response. County Commissioner Debra Davis (D) said the commissioners are aware of the issue, but have not worked to resolve it at this point.
With the county funding the Tri-County Council to the bare minimum, Davis said this is one of the negative effects she talked about when the decision was made. The bus lines and transportation
are more of a state advocacy issue rather than something the county commissioners would get into, she said, but they did not have constant contact with the state on the issue.
This is something the commissioners knew was coming and was not something WMATA did without warning, Davis said. “They had been going around the county, telling people what they were going to do,” she said.
Davis said WMATA cited a decreased ridership on the line and budget constraints as the reasoning
behind the W19 line being eliminated. However, she said, many citizens still used the line to get into the city. And a large portion of the county’s workforce works outside of the county and in Washington.
“My mind goes directly to the Tri-County Council and advocating directly for the citizens,” Davis said. “They’ve done their part. We’ve done our part. But it’s their call.”
At this point, Paulin said all that can be done is for Indian Head to look for different solutions to the issue while advocating for the bus line to continue with WMATA.
At this point, budget decisions are finalized, Paulin said. In mid-May with the end of the fiscal year coming up quickly, it is difficult to ask any organization to make abrupt changes. But the W19 line was something the county’s citizens benefit from, he said.
“We want to continue getting our residents into D.C.,” Paulin said. “All we can do is keep advocating and come up with solutions.”