Metro GM Wants Delay on Fare Plan
Metro's new general manager, John B. Catoe Jr., plans to ask the transit authority board of directors for more time to review Metro operations before he offers his own set of proposals on fares and service.
He is scheduled to present that request at board committee meetings on Thursday. The original plan offered by Metro management in December called for the board to agree this month on the schedule of public hearings necessary before fare and service changes could take place at the start of Metro's budget year in July.
This new recommendation does not mean we're spared from fare increases and service cutbacks. Catoe just got started last week and wants a chance to look things over and present his own ideas.
Here's how he puts it in his written recommendation to the board:
"Fare adjustments and service reductions should be viewed as actions of last resort in the process of balancing the FY08 budget. To assure our customers and the public that every possible efficiency has been implemented an organizational review is underway. The results of this review will likely recommend reallocation of budgetary resources and budget reductions as Metro better aligns itself to deliver Metrobus, Metrorail and MetroAccess service. The organizational review is scheduled to be completed in time for all recommendations to be incorporated into the FY08 budget."
This is what his recommendation says about the proposed service cutbacks on rail and bus: "Reducing service is contrary to the mission of Metro and ultimately leads to a self-defeating proposal. Therefore, the service reductions that have been proposed will be re-examined for opportunities to invest those resources back into other areas of bus and rail service."
This is what it says about the proposed fare increases: "If fare adjustments are still called for after completely assuring that Metro's FY08 proposed spending plan is aligned to achieve maximum efficiency the
implementation may be delayed until after the start of the fiscal year."
Catoe wants to postpone the public hearings till he knows what he wants us to be talking about. But he still must have a balanced budget on July 1.
How would that work, fiscal responsibility wise? He could have a budget balanced on revenue increases scheduled to kick in sometime later in the year.
So it's not time to exhale. There are only so many money-saving changes Catoe can recommend in the short term. It still seems likely we'll see some sort of fare increase out of this process.
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