In­dian Head com­muter bus to D.C. cut from ser­vice

WMATA cites low rid­er­ship as rea­son for can­celling

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com

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

Washington, D.C.

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.”

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