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The Aquilian

    The DC Metro struggles to fill its buses and trains

    Many metro trains in DC remain empty. (Photo by Leon Oblaender)
    Many metro trains in DC remain empty. (Photo by Leon Oblaender)

    Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, public transportation in the Washington, D.C. region has become one of the most affected sections of infrastructure affected for citizens and workers alike. The already poorly funded Metro system has had to survive the pandemic, keeping transportation safe and healthy, but more importantly, continuous.

    Naturally, people assume buses and trains that only required a card to enter would be a cesspool of bacteria and germs. This is why the D.C. Metro Safety Committee and Board of Directors struggled for several months to try and solve the problem of spreading the coronavirus in a transportation system, which employees regulated lightly.

    “Somedays, I would drive an entire shift without any passengers,” said Dwayne, a Metro bus driver, speaking on driving when the pandemic first hit. 

    With coronavirus, citizens avoided public transportation methods due to the natural fear of unknown germs flying around the underground railway system. So the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority struggled through its worst time of business and creating revenue from those who no longer want to ride or, more importantly, pay for the Metro.

    With covid guidelines increasing and the Metro system creating more regulations for safer transport, there has been a severe decrease in metro riders. 

    Directories make announcements at the stations to visitors reminding them to practice social distancing . (Photo by Graham Vyse)

    “It’s like a ghost town,” said Andrew Kolebuck, senior, who rode the Metro a couple of weeks ago. “Even now, I also practically never see more than three people on a bus when it passes by.”

    Some depend on the Metro system for transportation, and, unfortunately, sometimes shelter, as well. These same struggling citizens lacked the accessibility they used to have and had to brave the unknown dangers of the metro system at the beginning of the pandemic. When the pandemic struck, the Metro system shut down stations, made masks mandatory, set curfews, urged for only essential trips, and allowed bus drivers to bypass passengers when the buses became too full. These restrictions then led to a work-force reduction, another monster the pandemic created. They continued reducing and restricting travel until last June when they began their recovery plan “promoting safety over regional mobility.” 

    Since then, most of the metro system has been back to working efficiently and safely. However, it still lacks passengers due to the fear around the pandemic regardless of what the safety committee has preached. 

    A DC Metro worker walks alone in Union Station. (Photo by Graham Vyse)

    “The safety just seems uncertain,” said Leslie Maysak, mother of Gonzaga students Jack, senior, and Liam, freshman, speaking on why she no longer wants to send her sons to use the metro to get to school.

    As the virus evolves, scientists adapt, and as businesses struggle, they adapt, as well. The Metro system fell a long way down that terrifying month of March, but it has done its best to take it in stride and adapt to create regulations that allow for safe public transportation to those who need it. The metro is in a difficult place, trying to wrestle safety with efficiency and functionality. 

    For them to persevere, Gonzaga students need to do our part, and as Mrs. Debra Onufrychuk said, “know our 3 Ws, wear a mask, wash your hands and wait the distance 6 ft apart.”

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      Pam ValeirasFeb 23, 2021 at 1:01 pm

      Good article. Love your B&W photo! A picture’s worth a thousand words!

      Reply