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2/24/2006



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

WMATA proposes to increase service on several holidays, operate longer trains during tourist season


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Yesterday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) board budget committee approved holding public hearings on proposed Metrorail and Metrobus service changes included in the fiscal-year 2007 budget.

The authority has proposed providing standard weekday rail service on four holidays — Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day. The changes would cost an additional $1.8 million annually, but WMATA would charge regular weekday fares and parking fees to cover $800,000 of the costs. Currently, parking is free at WMATA lots on holidays and there’s no extra charge for traveling on the rail system during peak hours.

WMATA also has proposed running longer trains during non-peak weekday periods and on weekends for nine months out of the year instead of six. The authority currently operates six- instead of four-car trains during all off-peak hours on all but one line in the spring and summer to accommodate tourists.

Authority managers have proposed extending longer train operations an additional three months due to a 19 percent increase in off-peak weekday ridership and 24 percent increase in weekend ridership during the past two years. Running additional longer trains would cost $2.2 million annually.

WMATA expects to hold the public hearings during the next few months if the full board approves the plan at its March 16 meeting.




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