In the absence of drastically reduced ridership and new federal relief, Metro is proposing a new operating budget with a deficit of nearly $ 500 million. Here’s what you need to know.
NBC Washington’s Adam Duss on Metro’s proposed budget cuts
In the absence of drastically reduced ridership and new federal relief, Metro is proposing a new operating budget with a deficit of nearly $ 500 million.
The 2021 budget proposed by Metro General Manager Paul Whitefield on Monday includes the closure of Metro Rail at 9pm, the end of weekend service, the closure of 19 train stations and the reduction in the number of trains.
“It simply came to our notice then. Obviously, a historic budget crisis. This (fiscal year) begins on the 21st and continues into fiscal year 22, ”Whitefield said.
Everything is reduced to a “bare bones service” to support essential travel, while ensuring Metro survival to serve the region during recovery.
Under the scheme, metrobus service will be reduced to about 45% in pre-epidemic stages. Weekend bus service will be increased due to lack of weekend train service.
According to Metro’s budget plan, 19 stations will be closed:
- Arlington Cemetery
- Cleveland Park
- College Park
- East Falls Church
- Eisenhower Avenue
- Federal Center SW
- Federal triangle
- Judicial Square
- Morgan Boulevard
- Mount. Vernon Square
- From Dorn Street
- Virginia Square
“This is not a catastrophic situation by any means,” Whitefield said. “It’s not really a bad situation. It would be a bad situation if the revenue was completely flat … a catastrophic day if we had to stop service or do something bad.”
Metro’s proposed FY2022 budget includes pay freezes, layoffs and postponement of pay rises for union employees.
The changes will take effect in July, if approved.
WTOP has contacted the union representing Metro employees for feedback.
As Metro predicts very low revenue next year, its costs are rising. In addition to employee incentives, the company accepts costs from its Cinder Bed Road bus garage for the second phase of construction of its Silver Line expansion.
The epidemic has increased Metro’s costs as it has paid more than $ 10 million for testing, personal protective equipment and cleaning.
The transport company said riders were making a slow return, with current data showing a 20-25% return on ridership prior to the epidemic, Whitefield said. While the number is expected to increase next year, they are projected to be far below historic levels. Whitefield said it depends on the availability of a corona virus vaccine and the willingness of riders to use the system.
The effects of the epidemic caused the Metro to re-measure its operations, with the Metro Rail opening at 5 a.m. and closing at 11 p.m. It was received $ 876 million in federal funds in May CARES enables the maintenance of a consistent budget through legislation, while at the same time measuring its functions for reopening and delivering corona virus protection products to employees.
Transportation Company Restored most of its train and bus services In its pre-epidemic schedule in August, Whitefield said it was facing an “accidental crisis” without much federal funding.
Matt Lettorno, a Metro board member from Loud Town County, Virginia Admittedly, the Raiders are expected to arrive in September Did not return to use mass transit.
“Quite frankly, the big ticket to our metro system is the federal government … and I think it’s fair to say that when the federal government started recalling employees, we expected more trips to be recalled,” he said.
Whitefield said adding more federal aid from Congress would help avoid cuts.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser called the plan “too complicated,” but a reminder of why more federal aid should be provided. He added that it was important for everyone to come together to help Metro, “regardless of party or ideology.”
Mayor Bowser Report on the WMATA FY2022 Budget Proposal pic.twitter.com/62OTG0B5og
– Major Muriel Bowser (ay Mayer Bowser) December 1, 2020
The problems facing the metro are not exclusive, from reduced ridership to budget deficits. Whitefield said transportation agencies in Boston, New York, San Francisco and Chicago are wrestling with similar issues.
“The truth is, in the short term, $ 500 million will be needed for us to get back where we need to go from the federal government,” Wheatfield said. “Right now, that’s basically what we’re talking about, the sooner the better.”