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Metro budget situation even bleaker

Metro's operating budget shortfall for the current fiscal year will increase by an estimated $25 million due to lost revenue and other costs of the winter snowstorms as well as higher than expected paratransit costs, according to Metro officials.

Metro chief financial officer Carol Kissal said the deficit for 2010 -- originally at $40 million -- could be as much as $25 million higher, with $21 million of that resulting from the storms and the remainder caused by budget overruns by MetroAccess, Metro's paratransit service for the disabled and elderly.

Kissal earlier estimatedtyson.gif the budget gap would be $15 to $20 million higher, but that changed because of lower than expected reimbursement to Metro from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the winter storms. "Reimbursement from FEMA will only be $3 million," Kissal said.

Metro instituted a 10-cent fare increase in February and undertook other measures to cover the $40 million gap for this year, and the additional $25 million shortfall will be carried forward to fiscal year 2012, according to Metro rules.

The agency has plans to implement a broad package of fare increases this summer to cover a $189 million budget shortfall for the 2011 fiscal year. On Thursday a Metro panel approved the concept of an additional 5-cent increase at six rail stations to pay for capital improvements in those locations. That idea is still in its initial stages and the stations it would affect have not been identified, although Union Station is among the possible locations.

-- Ann Scott Tyson

By Michael Bolden  | June 10, 2010; 1:59 PM ET
Categories:  Metro  
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Comments

Ya changed that headline fast enough once someone from the Gubment called 'ya: from an expression of popular outrage to greasing the same skids that already have all the grease.

Posted by: Extempraneous | June 10, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Metro is infuriating. Where did they get the power and authority to simply continue raising their own fares to cover for their own incompetent management and bloated payrolls? Is there no oversight? They've somehow managed to simultaneously become consistently more expensive and more incompetent over the last 10 years.

Here is a recent snapshot of my Metro experiences:

Friday, 6/4 - Stuck on Orange line for 2 hours during morning rush hour due to 4 - repeat, 4 - different trains experiencing some combination of mechanical difficulty/sick passenger/operator incompetence.

Monday, 6/7 - 45 minute delay on Orange line during evening rush hour (with the added bonus of being stopped on a curve so the whole car is tilted and it's difficult to stand), due to some sort of signal issue or train problem.

Tuesday, 6/8 - Orange line trains miraculously have 10-15 minute headways during evening rush hour, resulting in crammed trains, while 2-3 nearly empty Blue Line trains go by in between. So-called "8-car" Orange line train has first entire car out of service, forcing everyone to stampede dangerously down the platform to the next car.

Thursday, 6/10 - Orange line operator, possibly high, decides to use the train's intercom to practice his comedy skills and maintain a grating running dialogue about why there is a schedule adjustment, why signals are red, why we're holding at various stations, why the doors need to close, why they don't need to close, and basically everything that's happening to him in real time.

These sorts of things happen nearly every day. I can't remember the time I had a hassle-free commute -- in fact, these days I'm just happy when I reach my destination alive. Yet the sky's the limit on fares.

Posted by: zippyspeed | June 10, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

It's the Union payroll! Period! and the fact Metro serves as an employment agency for the unemployable..

Posted by: genbarlow | June 10, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

It's the Union payroll! Period! and the fact Metro serves as an employment agency for the unemployable..

Posted by: genbarlow
_______________-


Metro. The employer of last resort. Perhaps they can raise money by making the rats living in the tunnels and the pigeons on the station roofs pay rent.

Posted by: ceefer66 | June 10, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I switched from Metrorail to MARC. I'm so happy.

Posted by: bs2004 | June 10, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

No surprise from an agency that allows its union to force them into re-hiring (with back pay) a bus driver who stopped his bus full of passengers so he could get off and punch out a cop in costume talking to a bunch of kids.

You'd think they'd be a bit more worried about this guy punching out a passenger...

Well, its not their money... They can always raise the fares some more.

Posted by: Davidsonville | June 10, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Coupled with the Mayor's astronomical fee hikes, Metro and the Mayor are making this city more and more business, UN-friendly. This city needs to take a shift in the direction of conservatism, note I didn't say Republicanism, lest it find itself again in the hands of a federal control board.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | June 10, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Why does Metro need to be re-imbursed for snow? Why should FEMA pay Metro because people didn't ride the rail beacuse of low ridership? Does the agency not have a weather contingency budget? None of their equipment was damaged, or at least none was reported, so what in the world happened in February that cost the agency to spend $25 million more than expected?

It certainly wasn't for snow clearing equipment, because they don't have any!

Posted by: Russtinator | June 10, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Why does Metro need to be re-imbursed for snow? Why should FEMA pay Metro because people didn't ride the rail beacuse of low ridership? Does the agency not have a weather contingency budget? None of their equipment was damaged, or at least none was reported, so what in the world happened in February that cost the agency to spend $25 million more than expected?

It certainly wasn't for snow clearing equipment, because they don't have any!

Posted by: Russtinator | June 10, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

At the risk of this being too easy... herewith an initial modest effort at updating the MTA song - "Charlie on the MTA", of Kingston Trio fame - from the original lyrics, as written by Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lomax Hawes. FWIW, better new lyrics might be had... but this is an effort to amend the original as little as possible. Replaced words are noted in parentheses. Feel free to substitute your own favorite Metro stations!

Let me tell you the story of a man named Charlie
On a tragic and fateful day
He put his farecard (ten cents) in his pocket, kissed his wife and family
Went to ride on the WMATA (MTA).

Charlie handed in his card (dime) at the Navy Yard (Kendall Square) Station
And he transferred for Woodley Park (changed for Jamaica Plain)
When he got there the conductor told him, "One more nickel."
Charlie never could disembark (could not get off that train).

Chorus: Did he ever return, no he never returned
And his fate is still unlearn'd
He may ride forever 'neath the streets of D.C. (Boston)
He's the man who never returned.

Now all night long Charlie rides through the tunnels
Saying, "What will become of me?
How can I afford to see my dad at Eastern Market (sister in Chelsea)
Or my children at UDC (cousin in Roxbury)?"

Charlie's wife goes down to the Metro Center (Scollay Square) station
Every day at quarter past two
And through the open window she hands Charlie a sandwich
As the train comes rumblin' through. *

[* Which, alas, does Charlie little good… because, as we all know, he’s not allowed to eat it on the train.]

As his train rolled on underneath the District (Greater Boston)
Charlie looked around and sighed:
"Well, I'm sore and disgusted, and I'm absolutely busted;
I guess this is my last long ride."

Now you citizens of D.C. (Boston), don't you think it's a scandal
That the people have to pay and pay
Sack the Metro Board (Vote for Walter A. O'Brien) and fight the fare increase!
Get poor Charlie off the WMATA (MTA).

Chorus: Or else he'll never return, no he'll never return
And his fate will be unlearned
He may ride forever 'neath the streets of D.C. (Boston)
He's the man who never returned.

Posted by: nan_lynn | June 10, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

zippyspeed, I think Metro would say you had a good Wednesday, 6/9. Can you really ask for more?

Posted by: seraphina21 | June 10, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I am usually a metro fan, but this has really gotten out of control. You pass a emergency fare increase in February, and then follow it up by, and I quote "the largest fare increase in the systems history" just last month, and you are STILL short?

How in gods name did "new" expenses from January/February "just" show up that hadn't shown up prior to the two fare increases you've passed in the previous 3 months.

No, no more fare increases this year. You need more money, you start offloading your biggest expense, your union labor which despite the economy has enjoyed higher than COLA salary increases the past two years, while the rest of us worry about just having a job.

Posted by: Nosh1 | June 10, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I think Metro board/management/labor needs a visit from Mr. Les Grossman.

Posted by: ams1500 | June 10, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I'll say it again, there needs to be an INDEPENDENT, OUTSIDE AUDIT of ALL of Metro operations. Finance, rail, bus, customer service, safety, everything. Every position should should scrutinized as to whether that position is needed, if needed is it fairly compensated, and is the person in that position capable of doing that job and are they, in fact, actually doing the job.

This would go a long way towards restoring a small amount of belief in what Metro tells us.

Posted by: ceebee2 | June 10, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

At certain point, using Metro no longer economical and that point is reaching fast with monthly rising fees. People, either walk or drive (car pool) and screw Metro.

Posted by: drkly | June 10, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

As I have said numerous times, people should expect fare increases numerous times the next few years.

It is the only way for Metro to make up for their own idiotic decisions the last few years

Other ways to reduce costs like less trains, etc....are simply stop-gap methods and will not actually help reduce the ridiculous debt

Posted by: Bious | June 11, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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