“Metro this week released a proposed budget for its next fiscal year that, without additional contributions from Metro’s funding partners, would necessitate fare increases and drastic cuts to service and to Metro’s workforce, a worst-case scenario for the region’s economy, quality of life, and environment.
Metro faces a $750 million funding gap for Fiscal Year 2025, which begins July 1, 2024. The budget gap is a result of several factors, including lower ridership revenue that is still recovering from the pandemic, the depletion of federal pandemic relief funds, a subsidy credit provided to jurisdictions in 2020, and historic inflation.
Metro is unique among transit agencies in the United States in that it was structured without any independent funding and is legally required to pass a balanced budget every year. Despite an exhaustive effort to find internal savings, including $95 million in one-time savings carried over from FY24, $50 million in recurring annual savings and efficiencies, and a hiring and salary freeze, closing a gap of this size to pass a legally-required balanced budget requires drastically reducing rail, bus, and paratransit service, increasing fares, slashing Metro’s workforce, and deferring maintenance and modernization projects, ultimately making the system less safe and reliable.
“Metro is facing an unprecedented, existential crisis that requires our region to rally together if we want to avoid the catastrophic impacts this budget would have on our region,” said Metro General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke. “I’m so proud of Metro and our dedicated workforce that has helped deliver over a dozen recent service improvements and are providing great service for our region all day, seven days a week. We are doing everything in our power to avoid the doomsday scenario outlined in this budget proposal, but we must also be transparent and honest about how devastating these cuts would be if additional funding isn’t secured.”
Beginning in January, Metro will implement a hiring freeze, eliminate wage and salary increases, and issue legally required layoff notices to portions of its workforce alerting them to the potential of layoffs next summer if additional funding is not provided. Due to workforce attrition, customers could see degraded service as early as late winter or early spring.
Other proposals include:
System closure at 10 p.m., seven days a week
Close 10 low-ridership stations
Red Line turn-backs at Grosvenor-Strathmore and Silver Spring stations, reducing train frequencies for end-of-line stations
Silver Line turn-back at Stadium-Armory with Silver Line service between Ashburn and Stadium-Armory only, reducing train frequencies to Downtown Largo
Decreased service on all Metrorail lines: Reduce the number of trips with 6 minutes or better service from 81 percent in FY24 to 10 percent in FY25
Eliminate service on 67 of 135 Metrobus routes
Reduce Metrobus service on 41 of the remaining Metrobus routes
Service area reduced to align with reduced Metrobus and Metrorail service area, in accordance with federal law
320,000 annual trips negatively impacted
Increase all fares by 20 percent, including Metrorail, Metrobus, MetroAccess, and discounted fare products
Customers pay more for much-degraded service
Metro’s robust capital improvement program in recent years has improved customer experience and satisfaction across the board, with less frequent infrastructure-related service disruptions, much-improved escalator availability, and modernized stations and customer amenities.
However, Metro is reluctantly proposing to use $193 million more in capital funding to cover operating maintenance expenses to help close the large gap in FY25. This shift is necessary for Metro to be able to provide even the much-reduced service levels proposed in FY25. Such a large transfer of capital funds to operating expenses puts the system’s state of good repair, including safety and reliability, at risk, and threatens to delay, defer, decrease, or cancel several long-term projects to modernize the system, including:
Regular corrective maintenance
New railcar maintenance and overhaul facility
8000-series railcar purchase options and ability to retire oldest, least reliable railcars
Better Bus initiative, including goal to transition to 100 percent zero emission buses by 2042
Degraded customer experience
The combined effect of service cuts, fare increases, layoffs, and reduced capital spending on infrastructure would lead to a much-degraded customer experience. Impacts would include:
Decreased safety and security due to reduced Metro Transit Police presence, longer police response times, weakened cybersecurity, and other risks
Dirtier trains, buses, and stations, and reduced ability to deliver real-time trip information
Reduced reliability across the board, from trains and buses to escalators and elevators
Between now and February, Metro staff and the Board of Directors will finalize a budget proposal for the public’s input and comments. Check wmata.com/budget for FAQs and updates on the launch of a public comment period.”
From WMATA GM Randy Clarke: “Our customers are the most important part of @wmata mission, so I’m sharing this letter directly to customers and the board meeting budget deck to better explain our dire financial situation.”
From ANXO (711 Kennedy Street, NW): “CELEBRATE WOMEN’S MONTH AT BRIGHTWOOD PIZZA! For the entire month of March we are celebrating women and raising money for the DC Abortion Fund….
And thanks to Helder Gil for sending our favorite, oft featured, old taxi. Sweet City Ride is made possible by readers like you!
Thanks to Pia for sending this “Beautiful Vintage Ford truck” Sweet City Ride is made possible by readers like you!
If you have any animal/pet photos you’d like to share please send an email to princeofpetworth(at)gmail(dot)com with ‘Animal Fix’ in the title and say the name of your pet and…
Dreaming of small-town charm with big-city convenience? Look no further than 7156 Main St in Clifton, Virginia! Nestled just 30 miles from the heart of Washington D.C., this picturesque property offers the best of both worlds.
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Imagine weekends exploring local shops, dining at charming cafes, and enjoying outdoor adventures in nearby parks. Then, commute to D.C. for work or play, soaking in all the culture, entertainment, and career opportunities the city has to offer.
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The 2024 DC Environmental Film Festival begins Thursday, March 21, at 7pm with the US Premiere screening of ANTARCTICA CALLING from Academy Award-winning director Luc Jacquet.
The Festival will continue through Saturday, March 30, offering dozens of screenings at venues