Come next summer, Metro may be operating at “bare bones” service levels with just two-thirds of its staff.
The region’s transit agency said it will need to close well more than a dozen stations, implement a hiring freeze, lay off some of its workforce, dip into its capital funds and further reduce bus and rail service in the next fiscal year in order to offset a $495 million revenue shortfall, according to a budget proposal from Paul Wiedefeld, general manager and CEO of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
WMATA’s finance and capital committee will review his proposal Friday.
Wiedefeld said these cuts are necessary because he expects Metro use to remain lower than anticipated in fiscal 2022, which starts July 1, 2021 — too little to cover the cost of operations. In all, the system projects ridership will reach 106 million in the 12 months from next July, or roughly 34% of pre-pandemic levels, with fare revenue hitting about $172 million. While that’s a bump from the current year, it’s a $559 million drop from fiscal 2019. Indeed, Metro was only able to make it through the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years with fewer cuts because of $876.8 million supplied by the federal CARES Act funding.