What's at stake for Metro riders in budget
See other postings in this series on Metro's options:
-- Jim Graham: Tap capital budget.
-- Transit coalition asks Metro to avoid cuts.
-- Rider proposes targeted fare increase.
-- Smart Growthers back fare hike, borrowing.
-- Metro rider outlines travel concerns.
-- Riders consider train lengths, service cuts
-- Riders group backs surcharge.
We've heard from many riders and transit advocates. Now let's consider what's ahead.
Prediction, less firm: Divisions among the board members will emerge over whether to close the gap simply by lifting money from the long-term maintenance and equipment-buying budget or to include a five-cent or ten-cent surcharge that would at least reduce the hit on the capital budget.
Outlook murky: Whatever the board does on Thursday, it's only the beginning. The current shortfall is chump change compared to the one looming in the Metro budget year that starts in July. It's very unlikely that the local jurisdictions supporting Metro are going to kick in any extra money for the operating budget. Meanwhile, Metro needs them to make a renewed commitment to finance long-term maintenance and improvements.
Riders who care about the transit system will expend a lot of energy and passion discussing the fare surcharge, proposed service cuts and risks of taking money away from the maintenance and improvement budget. But almost immediately, the board will begin asking them what it should do about closing the next budget gap, of about $175 million.
Plenty of the ideas they've expressed about this round will apply to that round, only more so. All those proposed service cuts, the ones I think will be avoided for the next few months, are likely to be on the table again for the year starting in July. Also on the table will be a very substantial fare increase.
January 27, 2010; 11:38 AM ET
Categories: Metro , Transportation Politics , transit | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metro budget
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