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D.C. disputes WMATA's account of rock throwing at Southeast buses

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Photo - Metrobus (Examiner file photo)
Metrobus (Examiner file photo)
Local,Transportation,Kytja Weir,Alan Blinder

The District is disputing Metro's account of rock-throwing incidents on a Southeast D.C. bus line and opposes cuts to nighttime service to some neighborhoods on Southeast routes.

Mayor Vincent Gray said Wednesday that he is "unalterably opposed" to the proposed cuts to the W6 and W8 routes.

"That's exactly the direction we don't want to go in the District of Columbia, where when you live in a particular place that you feel like the services of the city are not available to you in the same way," Gray told reporters. "We've got to find another way to do this. Some people depend on that bus service to go to work."

Metro has proposed cutting two sections of the routes after 8 p.m., including Elvans Road, Jasper Road, Robinson Place, 12th Place and Bruce Place. That would mean no nighttime service to clusters of residential homes, a public park with ball fields and Johnson Middle School, which DC Public Schools has proposed to shutter.

The agency said the changes were not "cuts" but a "slight alteration," noting that riders who use the affected bus stops would still be able to board the buses at most two-fifths of a mile away.

Metro has said it is seeking the cuts because of "repeated incidents of physical damage to buses from rock throwing, which endangers bus operators and customers." Metro spokesman Dan Stessel told DCist last month that rock throwing occurs "several times a week, and sometimes on a daily basis."

But the District's top public safety official said the city only has four reports of such incidents in all of Southeast this year, the same number as last year.

"There was nothing that points to a particular neighborhood. There were four random acts," said Paul Quander, deputy mayor for public safety and justice. The city has more reported rock-throwing incidents involving buses on the U Street Corridor in Northwest than in all of Southeast, he said.

"We want to make sure that any passenger riding a Metrobus is safe. Any incident will be addressed," he added. "But there has not been, as far as I am aware, any great increase in the number of incidents."

The city pledged to work with Metro on the issue, offering the Metropolitan Police Department's services.

"We appreciate the input of District officials," Metro spokesman Philip Stewart responded. "We'll give their comments all due consideration before finalizing any decision."

kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

ablinder@washingtonexaminer

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