By David Schultz
Although it sounds like religious services, the gathering at Gethsemane United Methodist Church in Capitol Heights, Md. is actually a rally in opposition to Metro's budget proposals, which include the elimination of dozens of bus lines and a fare increase of more than 20 percent.
JoVone Pender, a younger member of Gethsemane Church, told the congregation how the fare hike would affect him. He says he's working in his first job and he relies on Metro to get him there.
"The Metro rates are going up and taking a toll on my newly-employed pockets," he says.
Theresa Bryant, a District resident, spoke about how bus service is already inadequate-even before any lines are eliminated.
"The Metro system was able to get millions of people to the Obama inauguration," she says. "But I can't get to church, because the F14 doesn't run on Sunday."
Metro Board Member Elizabeth Hewlett, who represents Prince George's County, came on toward the end to answer the congregation's questions. But she was "amen-ed" off the stage after she went over her allotted two minutes.
The Metro Board is holding public hearings over the next few months on the proposed service cuts and increased fares before it casts a final vote in June. The first of Metro's six budget hearings is scheduled for this Monday at Oakton High School in Vienna, Va. It starts at 7 p.m.