Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld will present a proposed fiscal 2018 budget Thursday, Nov. 3 that includes fare increases, downsizing of the workforce by 1,000 and a reduction in rail service.
Wiedefeld also said in an Oct. 30 statement that he will ask officials from D.C., Maryland and Virginia to contribute more funding toward the beleaguered transit agency.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represent operators, paratransit and maintenance workers, held a protest Monday on Halloween, called Wiedefeld’s proposal “spooky.”
“The GM’s proposal to cut service and raise fares threatens to put our transit system into a rapid death spiral. We stand against this backward thinking,” said union president Jackie Jeter. “[The] GM’s budget seeks to hasten the death of public transit. We the ATU — the people who move this region — are saying it is time to invest in the renaissance of WMATA.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he is wary of increasing the $500 million the state already invests annually in Metro as the agency’s infrastructure continues to have problems.
“We need money to get the ridership up … but I’m saying we’ve got to see some more real improvement before we commit to more money,” Hogan said Oct. 24 on Montgomery County TV.
Two state delegates from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties — Marc Korman (D-District 16) and Erek Barron (D-District 24) — wrote Hogan a letter to ensure the state continues to support Metro.
“Metro is a key economic engine in the state of Maryland and it benefits Marylanders who do not even ride the system by keeping some drivers off the road and generating economic activity,” the letter stated. “We must remember that Maryland needs Metro and shares responsibility for funding that need.”
Metro plans to request an additional $44 million from Maryland. About $47 million would come from the District and $39 million from Virginia for a total of $130 million.
Weidefeld said the budget plan, which he called a “reality check,” is a way to help balance $1.8 billion operating budget with a $290 million shortfall, about $15 million more than previously estimated.
“Metro has to face reality when it comes to what the region says it can afford and direct those resources to best serve the riders we have today,” he said. “This plan has Metro doing everything in our power to get major expense categories under control while improving safety and making the trains run on time.”
The planned number of layoffs is double the amount he announced earlier this year and don’t include the 20 workers — seven of those senior managers — fired in May as part of what the agency called a restructuring process.
The proposed fare increases include:
- One-way bus fares from $1.75 to $2 and Express bus fares from $4 to $0.25;
- Metrorail peak fares to board a train from $2.15 to $2.25 with the maximum fare at $6;
- All parking fees would increase by $0.10.
Metrorail service could also be affected with trains running every eight minutes, a two-minute increase during peak hours. Blue Line riders may receive the biggest benefit with trains running more frequently than the current 12-minute intervals.
SafeTrack Surge #10 Underway
Metro’s 10th surge began Saturday with a segment of the Red Line being shut down between Fort Totten and NoMa-Gallaudet in Northeast through Nov. 22. Two stations tucked in between — Brookland-CUA and Rhode Island Avenue — will be closed as maintenance crews repair and replace the rail system’s infrastructure.
Some of the work includes replacing wooden rail ties, fasteners and bolts.
The temporary Metrorail closure, which is the first during the school year, will affect more than 200,000 daily trips on the agency’s most heavily traveled line in the rail system.
With no trains coming through Brookland and Rhode Island Avenue stations, free shuttle bus service will be available for commuters between Fort Totten and NoMa-Gallaudet.
SafeTrack has forced some commuters such as James Epps of Adelphi, Maryland, to use alternate travel options or avoid Metro altogether.
“I may use Uber or something like that because this is getting ridiculous,” Epps said Monday while waiting for a Green Line train at Fort Totten. “I was listening to the news that [Metro] going up on [fares]. … Come on, man. Times are hard.”