Metro again facing fare increases, service cuts
No, you haven't read this posting already, even though some of the details will sound familiar.
During the same Thursday meeting at which the Metro board voted to impose a 10-cent surcharge on fares, the transit authority staff handed each board member a white binder containing General Manager John B. Catoe Jr.'s proposed budget for fiscal 2011, which starts July 1.
Follow that link to see the budget proposal, but remember that the board saw it for the first time Thursday and can modify the plan before calling for a new round of public hearings to discuss it.
If you were among the more than 600 people who submitted comments to the board, a natural reaction now would be to say, Wait. Didn't a lot of us say we'd pay 10 cents extra per ride to avoid service cuts, and isn't that what the board agreed to do Thursday?
Answer: That was then. This is now. The 10-cent surcharge avoids service cuts through June 30. The fiscal 2011 budget takes over on July 1, and the general manager's proposal contains these items, among many others, to close the $189 million gap between anticipated expenses and anticipated revenues:
-- Raise the bus boarding charge by 25 cents
-- Increase the rail boarding charge by 25 cents and increase the distance-based fare by 4 cents for each mile above three miles but less than six and by 3 cents per mile thereafter to a maximum fare of $5
-- Increase MetroAccess fares to the maximum allowed under the Americans with Disabilities Act. (That's twice the equivalent fixed-route fare.)
-- Cut bus service on less-traveled or redundant routes
-- Reduce the frequency of trains and hours of operation
-- Reduce the hours of operation and the service area for MetroAccess
See more details on the next page.
The proposed budget goes on to list some possible ways of reducing rail and bus service. And when we drill down to this level, the proposals start to sound very familiar.
For example, the detailed list of possible cuts includes:
-- Reduce weekday peak service by operating all 6-car trains; no 8-car trains. That would reduce peak period service by 58 rail cars, according to the budget.
-- Reduce weekday service between 6 and 6:30 a.m. by widening headways from six to eight minutes.
-- Weekend headways (the time between trains) reduced to every 15 minutes during the day Saturdays and 20 minutes Sundays, and 30 minutes at night.
-- Widen weekday headways to 15 minutes midday and 30 minutes at night.
-- Close some station entrances at nights and on weekends.
-- Open one hour later on weekends.
-- Open a half hour later on weekdays. (5:30 a.m. instead of 5 a.m.)
Some items have been debated, but don't usually appear on lists of options in budgets. They are here now:
-- Close Metrorail at 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights instead of 3 a.m.
-- Eliminate the Yellow Line extension to Fort Totten.
-- Reduce Yellow Line service late at night and on weekends to a shuttle between Huntington and King Street.
-- Close three stations on weekends.
Before you storm Metro headquarters on this, remember that the board is going to review this before coming up with a proposal for public hearings, which could take place in March, April or May under various scenarios. If fare hikes or service cuts or both result, they would probably begin June 27.
[I'll have more for you about Metro's budget crisis on Sunday's Commuter page in The Post Metro section.]
January 29, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories: Metro , Transportation Politics , transit | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metro budget
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