We read that WMATA (D.C.’s Metro) head Paul Wiedefeld said this about Metro’s lack of late night servicer out loud, to other people (boldface mine):
We have to put it in perspective in terms of the volumes of people we move in those periods. If you recall, we used to do midday track work, which was a lot of single-tracking. It was very frustrating to tens and tens of thousands of people—and then, occasionally, it would bleed into the evening rush hour because you’re doing work and find something. So we’ve stopped that. If there’s an emergency, we do it, but otherwise we’re doing it at night.
So that’s some of the tradeoff we’ve got to do. We as an agency and we as a region have to recognize that what we’re really trying to be is part of a mobility equation. The world is changing around us, whether it’s the Ubers and Lyfts of the world, the scooters, the bikes, you name it.
We used to think of transit in this country, particularly in urban areas, as a utility. You really didn’t have many other choices. But we’re not in that world anymore—and that’s not a bad thing. Does it make sense to run a 120-mile system for literally a few thousand people [who are using it late at night]? Or does it make more sense to the taxpayers to figure out if there’s another way to deliver that same thing we want?
Let’s ignore the neo-liberal attitude towards a public good. And let’s ignore that you don’t want an efficient mass transit system either (really, you don’t. Read the link and think about it). Here’s the problem: weekend service–all day–sucks, and has sucked for four years, going on five. Yet, even with massive weekend declines, tens of thousands of people use Metro every weekend day (and evening). So what’s the logic for shitty weekend service, for what seems to be in perpetuity?
As I recently noted, D.C. leadership really needs to step up for its citizens and improve weekend service because it’s clear Metro’s GM won’t.