EDITORIAL: Metro to Raise Fares, Cut Services but Riders Remain X-Factor

Passengers board a Green Line train at the Prince George's Plaza Metro station in Hyattsville in September. Metro recently released a safety report that shows injuries among riders and employees slightly increased last year. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Passengers board a Green Line train at the Prince George's Plaza Metro station in Hyattsville in September. Metro recently released a safety report that shows injuries among riders and employees slightly increased last year. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

Smoke-filled stations, surges, frequent system breakdowns and heated community forums have dominated the news here in the District for well over a year — all part of the many challenges facing Metro.

Now in a statement released Monday, Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld says he’ll proceed with a previously announced plan to balance the operating budget for the coming fiscal year — raising train and bus fares and cutting services.

We believe that Wiedefeld has done just about all he can to close a whopping $290 million shortfall, receiving the support of Board Chairman Jack Evans in a concerted effort that has already required fare increases, slicing services, downsizing staff and an overall tightening of Metro’s operations.

But it hasn’t been enough to significantly tackle the financial shortfall.

Metro needs financial help from the federal government and the three jurisdictions as it looks to its 2019 budget. That’s essential. Even more, it will need riders, many of whom have found other ways to get around after becoming fed up, to return.

We see riders who have turned their back on the increasingly unreliable transit system as the real X-factor. And while we’re hopeful that Metro’s leaders can entice riders to give them another chance, even with rate increases being an all but forgone conclusion, it’s going to take some real smooth talking from the top brass.

Good luck, Metro! You really have your hands full this time. The good news — it’s not “mission impossible,” but it’s pretty close.

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