But Eugenia, president of the Howard Park Civic Association, said the M6 was a "crown jewel" of the MTA. "The M6 ran every 15 minutes like clockwork. It never, ever ran empty," she said.
Eugenia and others said the community see the issue as being tinged with racial and class considerations. Flanagan rejected the criticism, saying the initiative will improve bus service for transit-dependent riders - primarily African-Americans.
The transportation secretary continued to clarify his position in phone calls through the weekend.
On Saturday, he expressed dismay that the letter was made public. Flanagan said he had been holding productive negotiations with the delegates from the 41st District - though not with Gladden, whom he said was holding out for hearings.
The transportation secretary, who said his letter was taken out of context, defended his decision to link hearings to the bus routes as a legitimate process of give-and-take with legislators.
"I have priorities that reach to the entire metropolitan area," Flanagan said. He said that with a limited budget, adding resources to one line could mean cuts to others.
Rosenberg confirmed that the House delegation had been negotiating with the secretary but said no deal had been reached. He said the hearings bill has not been withdrawn and will be up for its own House hearing tomorrow.
The fate of the House bill and its Senate companion might be moot if the budget language adopted by a Senate committee is agreed to by the House. The Senate provision postpones implementation of the second phase until Oct. 1, requires hearings and adds a requirement that the MTA report to the legislature on the effectiveness of the initial series of cuts.
Del. Peter Franchot, a Montgomery County Democrat who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees transportation spending, said he believes the language will remain in the budget.