A W6 departing from the Anacostia Metro station just after 8 on a recent evening stopped suddenly, midway through the route. The engine and lights went off after a boy approached the bus and pulled an external switch that disconnects the battery. The bus was disabled and the boy disappeared.
“It’s crazy,” said the driver, who would not give her name. On the same night, she dealt with a passenger who refused to pay the fare and another who was intoxicated and forced his way onto the bus at the end of the route and exited only when the driver called security.
The two areas off Stanton Road where Metro is proposing to stop service after 8 p.m. are places where some residents are afraid to speak to police and where shootings and other violent crimes are common.
The bus stops that would be affected are at Jasper Road, Robinson Place, Bruce Place, and Elvans Road. Requa said the stops serve about 50 people a day, few of them at night.
“It is going to inconvenience some people,” said Deborah Womack, who rides the W6 every day and who said elderly people on nearby side streets would be most affected, some of them afraid to walk farther to catch the bus.
But Womack, who uses the bus to get to and from the Metrorail station, said she also feels for the bus drivers: “I wouldn’t want to drive a bus around here.”
Bus drivers, too, welcome the proposed changes, saying they would feel safer staying away from the hills and dead ends in the area. On Elvans Road,a man was shot and killed last month inside an apartment building.
Some residents and drivers say they would like to see police catch the vandals and deploy more resources to areas such as the ones served by the W6 and W8.
“If people were throwing rocks at buses in Georgetown, the police would be all over,” Womack said. “They need to have police officers on bikes and scooters like they have downtown. They won’t catch those kids if they are sitting in their patrol cars.”
D.C. police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump referred questions to Metro. “This is a WMATA matter,” she said, explaining that the department does not investigate the incidents.
But Robin Hoey, the newly appointed commander of the Seventh Police District, said he finds it hard to believe that the issue is not being addressed.
“The buses are traveling in D.C., and they are traveling in our neighborhoods, and the people up there do need that bus service,” Hoey said. “If someone is throwing rocks at anybody, that is illegal and we will address it.”
Law enforcement officials say they are visiting schools and communities to talk to young people about respecting Metro property and the safety of drivers and riders.
Delinski said transit police in uniform and in plainclothes ride the buses and patrol the routes. But of the transit police force’s 450 officers, two dozen are assigned to Metrobus, Metro said.
After years of unsuccessful efforts to curb the attacks, Delinski said he is glad Metro is taking steps to reduce opportunities for attacks at night.
“I think the best thing that we can do is alter the bus routes or move the bus stops themselves,” he said. “We come to the point where this is necessary.”