• DC Metro Riders Are Fleeing After Repeated Safety Issues

    DC Metro riders are increasingly dropping the subway system as a means of transport after several high profile safety issues this year.

    A new report shows that Metro ridership has been in a steady decline since 2010, and to make up for that lost fare revenue, the agency may be forced to raise prices, The Washington Post reports.

    Daily ridership on the subway system is down by around 5 percent since the beginning of 2010, or around 10 million passengers annually.

    According to the report, that is due in no small part to service disruptions and safety issues.

    “Metrorail is struggling to provide reliable service to customers,” the report reads. Also, on-time performance for trains is “consistently below target, particularly since the opening of the Silver Line” last year, and passengers “are experiencing more unpredictable travel times, and must budget more time to reach their destination.”

    With the advent of ride-sharing apps like Uber and the city’s successful implementation of its Bike Share program, residents are ditching the unreliable train system for other transportation options.

    That spells trouble for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority, which runs Metro. The agency relies heavily on passenger fares for its operating budget. Of Metro’s $3 billion budget, more than $800 million comes from rider fares.

    Fox 5 DC reports that other factors like a decline in the number of federal workers, which account for around 35 percent of Metro’s ridership, and local companies allowing employees to telework have also helped along the decline in fare revenue, but safety concerns are the key issue.

    The report specified three high-profile safety problems this year that it said kept riders away.

    In January, a smoke incident near L’Enfant Plaza left hundreds of riders stranded on a subway train for hours while rescuers searched for them. One woman died in the incident after faulty communication equipment caused emergency response personnel to have trouble finding the train.

    In August, a derailment near the Smithsonian stop snarled three separate train lines during the morning rush hour, leading to backups that took more than a day to sort out.

    Most recently, last month, a fire at an electrical substation near Stadium-Armory knocked out power at the train stop. Metro has since cut service to the stop and said it could take more than six months to totally fix the problems caused by the fire.

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