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Metro hopes to maintain fares, service

The transit authority staff, now developing the Metro budget for next year, is hoping to do it without increasing fares or cutting bus and rail service, but that will be difficult. Among other financial challenges, Metro anticipates growth of 10 percent in the ridership on the costly MetroAccess service for elderly and disabled people.

Another concern for the budget staff will be the cost of the safety improvements stemming from the investigation into the 2009 Red Line crash and the recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The staff will work on $25 million worth of internal cost reductions at the transit authority. Over the past three years, Metro has implemented $165 million in budget reductions, the staff says.

But with current financial assumptions, and without an increase in the subsidies provided by the local jurisdictions, the staff projects a budget gap of $89 million.

It's early yet. The Metro budget year starts each July, so it's difficult for the budget people to project trends in revenue and spending, which will be important in creating the next budget. So far this fiscal year, Metro has seen a decline in bus ridership.

Last winter, Metro had to impose an emergency fare surcharge to cover unanticipated costs. That was followed by the permanent fare increases that took effect this summer.

The Metro board won't decide on an actual budget until the spring. Board members Peter Benjamin of Maryland and Jim Graham of the District, meeting today in the finance committee, expressed concern about adopting specific budget guidelines that would tie the board's hands. They are worried about whether the jurisdictions they represent would be able to increase their subsidies to a level that would balance the next budget.

By Robert Thomson  | November 4, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags:  Dr. Gridlock  
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MetroAccess needs to be removed from WMATA and brought under control of each individual jurisdiction.

Also, it should be brought down to the minimal level required by law.

Posted by: yell53 | November 4, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Is Metro's Board actively seeking a General Manager? or have they taken full control of the GM's duties? I haven't heard or seen much about this, Dr.

Posted by: Hattrik | November 4, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

"Among other financial challenges, Metro anticipates growth of 10 percent in the ridership on the costly MetroAccess service for elderly and disabled people."

--Guys. Has anyone done the math on what it would cost to just give them taxi vouchers? Why is Metro even in this business, given the costs of the fleet? Honestly.

Posted by: __M__ | November 4, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Taxi vouchers would be a vast savings over the current system. Probably 80% or more.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | November 4, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

One thing that would help would be to fire the rude lazy employees and keep only the ones that want to work. After waiting over 30 minutes for a Green train last night during rush hour (without any notice from WMATA), and dealing with a completely useless station manager at Columbia Heights, I saw at least one spot they could save money. She didn't care, didn't want to care and was rude to boot. I filed a complaint, but I know it went into the void that is the Metro comment section. Nothing will happen. Nothing ever happens. They just don't care.

Posted by: dcdot | November 4, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

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