- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Metro officials have changed their minds about cutting service hours on the Fourth of July, announcing late Tuesday that the subway will remain open until midnight after having said earlier it would close at 11:30 p.m.

No reason was given for the change to a midnight close for the holiday, other than to provide “an additional half hour of service for customers returning from festivities on the National Mall and around the region.”

Metro’s new hours, which began Sunday, call for an 11:30 p.m. close Monday through Thursday.

The midnight close for Independence Day will be the same as last year, but subway service closed at 3 a.m. in 2015 and 2014.

Meanwhile, the annual fireworks display, which about 700,000 people attend, is scheduled to start at 9:09 p.m. over the National Mall, according to the District’s website. Metro averages more than 600,000 passengers on weekdays.

Bar and restaurant managers said the service cut will affect their customers, employees and bottom line.

Business usually booms at Fado Irish Pub in Northwest after the fireworks show, said general manager Michelle Stewart.

“It happens literally 10 minutes after the fireworks end, so most of our business on the Fourth of July is the time around the end of the fireworks,” she said.

Ms. Stewart said Fado will be swamped until midnight on the Fourth, “or whenever now the Metro will be departing.” Fado already has felt the effects of reduced hours on their late night business, especially after sporting events.

“People don’t come out in the neighborhood like they used to,” she said. “They go down to the Metro and go right home.”

Marvin Deal, shift manager at The Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grille, said the Metro hours cut will have its greatest impact on weekends.

Business at the bar and grill, which is connected to the Verizon Center in Chinatown, is driven by events. Metro hour cuts have led to kitchen staff and customers leaving about an hour and a half earlier.

“We’re losing money on the back end,” Mr. Deal said. “I would say about $3,000 or $4,000 [on nights with events].”

In Southwest, a McDonald’s manager is taking it upon herself to get her employees home after work on the Fourth. If they don’t have other rides, Yeilin Bustillo said she will drive them home.

She said this will be her first Fourth of July at this restaurant, but she expects fewer customers to come in later because of the earlier Metro closing.

Sal’s Cafe in Southwest usually stays open until 1 a.m., but owner Syed Wahid will send workers home two hours early so they can ride Metro.

“It’s going to be so difficult for my employees to go back home … we have to let them go and I have to work [by] myself,” he said.

This will be the cafe’s eighth Fourth of July, and Mr. Wahid expects long lines up until closing time.

“It might hurt my business,” he said. “People have to leave early.”

Metro has a lot of issues budgeting and all that and I understand they want to cut some money, but on the Fourth of July, they should have some kind of money in place because there’s people suffering,” Mr. Wahid said. “They should understand that.”

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld has cut service hours and raised fares in an effort to shore up the troubled transit system’s finances. Most Metrorail fares increased by 10 or 25 cents; Metrobus fares rose by 25 cents.

“If you want to be a world-class city, I feel like you should have a world-class public transportation system,” Ms. Stewart said. “If you want people to come in and experience what D.C. has to offer from areas beyond our little district here, you have to give them a safe, affordable way to get there.”

 

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