McLEAN, Va. (AP) — The government shutdown is taking some of the sting from parts of the D.C. region’s notoriously nasty commute.

Ridership is down on mass transit lines in Maryland, Virginia, and the District. The data is less clear cut on car traffic, but so far shows less congestion on some major highways.

Metrorail reported a 22 percent ridership drop after the shutdown. The system is using fewer eight-car trains and more six-car trains as a result. Metro officials say a prolonged shutdown will inevitably affect the agency’s budget.

The Maryland Transit Administration reported ridership drops of 10 percent to 20 percent on MARC commuter rail, with drops of 50 percent or more on some commuter bus routes.

MTA officials say they don’t expect a short-term loss of revenue, though, because most passengers purchase monthly passes or 10-trip tickets. If the shutdown drags on, that could change.

At Virginia Railway Express, spokesman Mark Roeber said ridership Tuesday was 13,000, a 19 percent drop from normal numbers. He said if ridership falls below 9,000 or 10,000, VRE may scale back its schedule.

On the roads, a snapshot analysis from the Virginia Department of Transportation showed improved rush hours on Interstate 395 and Interstate 66, but little change on major secondary roads.

The analysis from VDOT compared only Tuesday morning’s traffic with the previous Tuesday. VDOT officials cautioned that the figures provide only a snapshot.

“The bottom line is I don’t think there’s enough time to really see a difference,” said VDOT spokeswoman Joan Morris.

In Maryland, State Highway Administration Dave Buck compared automated traffic counts generated at four spots on the Capital Beltway Tuesday and Wednesday with previous weeks. At none of the spots had the count dropped by more than 0.5 percent, he said.

He said it was just a very small sample for comparison, but “in terms of seeing anything appreciable in the numbers, it’s not there now,” Buck said.

The D.C. region suffers the worst traffic in the country, according to the annual rankings released earlier this year by the Texas Transportation Institute.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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