Metrobus B-27 Slated for Cancellation
Loss of Public Transportation May Strand Campus Commuters
By Erin L. Berry
Bowie State University students, faculty and staff who travel to campus on Metrobus B-27 may be in for some serious changes beginning in July 2009. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has proposed a cut of approximately $13 million in bus services due to a lack of funding for the Metrobus services. The majority of the cuts, which add up to about $10 million, will affect the state of Maryland where major regional lines will be cut or some segments may be totally removed from service and if this proposal is passed, it will go into effect beginning in July 2009.
According to Maryland Department of Transportation liaison Thomas Webster, "...the Metro operating budget has a pretty significant deficit...and part of the process for assisting with this are the Metrobus reductions." Webster also said that a reduction or elimination in the B-27 bus line, which connects the New Carrollton Metrorail station to BSU, has been suggested because of if its lower ridership compared to that of other Metro buses.
"The average Metrobus has about 2,500 passengers and the fares from that cover about 29 percent of the costs. The B-27 has 260 daily passengers and fares equal up to about 15 percent which is relatively lower," Webster said.
Though the figures seem to add up---and due to the economic crisis that this country faces---one can't help but to expect more cuts to surface. Some people are still hopeful, however, that this proposal is just on paper and not a plan of action.
"I can't help but to worry about how this will affect me for the next school semester," said Marcus Bittle, a BSU sophomore. "As a commuter student, I rely heavily on the B-27 as my main transportation, and if they decide to cancel this route completely, I'll have to do a lot of readjusting to find another transportation route."
With concerns like Bittle's and other students and staff members in mind, Prince George's County Councilwoman Ingrid M. Turner, whose representative district includes Bowie State, said in an interview regarding Metrobus proposed cuts that, "I do not support the proposed transportation cuts. We need to continue to encourage the use of public transportation and not cutting it out, especially during these economic times.
"The B-27 serves our student population at Bowie State University and New Carrollton," Turner added. "The B-27 specifically serves our younger population of college students as well as our continuing education students. We need to make it as convenient as possible for students to further their education. The County is working with WMATA and the state to find funding to restore this route and other routes."
Unaware of the proposal was BSU Junior Shannon Harrison who said, "I'm saddened by this proposal actually because I come from Fort Washington everyday and this is the only bus that gets me from home to Bowie State everyday."
In a letter to WMATA General Manager John B. Catoe Jr., BSU President Mickey L. Burnim strongly urged transportation officials to reconsider the proposed cut.
"Transit-oriented resources and higher education can be mutually reinforcing in improving our communities," Burnim wrote in the April 16 letter. "We know that investment in education as a form of human capital is a critical park of our nation's economic recovery from the current recession."
Burnim added, "Since many of our employees and student depend on the B-27 line for transportation to and from campus, eliminating this service would imposed a severe hardship on them since the alternative transportation choices would be costly in terms of time and/or money."
With the new awareness being raised about this proposal, students and community members should also know that the Metro board held six public hearings about a week ago with the last hearing on April 20. During the hearings, community members could come out and voice their concerns about the proposed action or submit their concerns in writing to the board. The Metro board has until April 30 to make a decision concerning this matter.