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Study Shows Transit Ridership Growing Fast In D.C.

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Rising demand for public transit in the D.C. area has put pressures on the Metro system.
David Schultz
Rising demand for public transit in the D.C. area has put pressures on the Metro system.

By David Schultz

If you think about all the commuters in this region as if they were a giant pie, the slice representing people who use public transit is relatively small - just around 13 percent.

But that slice is growing.

According to a new study by the Brookings Institution, it grew faster than in almost any city in the country from 2000 to 2008. And one of the study's co-authors, researcher Emilia Istrate, says Metro hasn't kept up.

"The problem," says Istrate, "is that they don't have the money to do it."

Istrate says, unlike most transit agencies, Metro relies almost solely on whatever funding local governments decide to give it.

"They are doing whatever they can," she says. "But if you don't have the funding, if you don't have the funding sources, it's as much as you can do with the budget that you have."

Istrate says Metro needs to find new sources of funding, either from a new tax or from the federal government, to get itself back on track.

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