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Student Metro efforts stall
Progress toward the creation of a Metro discount for D.C. college students has come to a standstill, despite its momentum at beginning of the semester. Though they remain optimistic, local student leaders have had trouble organizing further talks with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The issue has not gained as much attention at Georgetown as it has at other schools, so it is uncertain whether Georgetown would adopt the discount even if it were passed.
Also unclear is who would take on the financial burden of the project, especially given WMATA’s perpetual budgetary issues. According to Sally Kram, Public Affairs Director for the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, which has been pushing for the discount for over a decade, there hasn’t been much progress since September.
The District of Columbia Metropolitan University Student Alliance, a coalition of student leaders that organized last year to lobby for the discount, aided the creation of the plan, a 16-week unlimited pass that would cost $100. DCMUSA hopes that universities would subsidize $50 of the pass so students would only have to pay $50 per semester.
“We’re very, very close … but it requires another round of talks,” George Washington University Student Association Executive Vice President Kyle Boyer said.
If the plan passes, Boyer said, it is likely to be implemented on a university-by-university basis. Boyer is confident that GWU will adopt the program if student leaders reach an agreement with WMATA, but the situation at Georgetown is less certain.
GUSA President Pat Dowd (SFS ’09) said it is not a major priority since Georgetown is “less connected to [the Metro] than other schools.” He also said he went to two DCMUSA meetings last year and was unimpressed.
“It was just me and George Mason and I was just like, ‘This is a big waste of time,’” he said. “When I went to the meetings I was sure that organization wasn’t going anywhere.”
Chris Zimmerman, a county board member from Arlington, Virginia, who is currently serving as the Chairman of WMATA’s Board of Directors, supports the idea and has arranged meetings with university presidents. In September, WMATA officials met with student leaders and school administrators to discuss potential financial models.
According to Andrew D’Souza (SFS ’11), of the Georgetown University Legislative Advocates, a group that has been working with DCMUSA, Georgetown’s lack of a Metro stop factors largely into why campus support for this plan is weak.
D’Souza said that it would help if the pass included buses as well as the subway. He is also worried that Georgetown’s tenuous financial situation will be a problem.
“I think it probably won’t happen at Georgetown within the next few years,” he said.