Washington D.C.’s Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or Metro, has received $2.4 billion in federal aid since the beginning of the pandemic but its finances are such a mess, that it still needs $750 million to break even next year, The Washington Post reported.
Ridership had fallen, bringing in less revenue than needed to run the train system. Although ridership has come back recently, the budget shortfall is still a problem, which could mean service cuts for the now-busy system.
Metro said in a recent report that it found $95 million in new, one-time savings in the current budget year and another $50 million in ongoing savings beginning next year, The Post reported. The savings come partly from using fewer consultants, consolidating call centers and having Metro conduct its own police training.
But the transit authority needs a lot more cash. It is considering taking between $60 million and $345 million from its capital program. Filling the gap is needed but that would skim funds off the top of the funds used for things like modernizing the system, upgrading signaling systems, and buying new rail cars and zero-emission buses.
No matter what, Metro will ask D.C., Virginia and Maryland to contribute more money.
Metro’s new report “paints a dire picture of Metro’s future if the agency fails to garner enough local support,” including having to service by about two-thirds, The Post reported.
Service cuts “would likely trigger a death spiral of a loss of ridership, detrimentally impact the region through worse traffic, reduce access to jobs and opportunity, and more pollution,” the report said.
While the newspaper reported that those “worse-case scenarios are unlikely” because regional leaders expressed support for paying for the train system, having been subsidized with $2.4 billion of taxpayer funds, Metro has a lot to answer for.
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