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Metro Proposes Higher Fares, Longer Wait Times in ‘Reality Check’ Budget

by Ryan Moore October 31, 2016 at 1:30 pm 10 Comments

Wiehle Reston-East Metro/Credit: Mike HeffnerMetro released on Sunday what it’s calling a “reality check” budget proposal that would increase fares and jurisdiction contributions while cutting jobs and services.

One of the more austere measures the FY18 plan proposes is downsizing Metro’s workforce by 1,000 positions in an attempt to close an estimated $290 million budget deficit.

“The most difficult part of this plan is the impact for Metro customers and employees,” Metro’s General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld, said in a press release. “Tough choices are required to balance the operating budget.”

Peak-hour rail fares would increase 10 cents, with $2.25 as the new minimum and a $6 maximum one way. Off-peak rail fares would increase 25 cents to $2. Off-peak rail riders would pay the $2 boarding charge in addition to current distance-based fares. Other proposed fare changes beginning

July 1, 2017, include:

  • For bus riders, one-way local bus fares would increase from $1.75 to $2.
  • Express bus fares would increase from $4 today to $4.25, and daily parking fees would increase 10 cents.

In addition, the majority of rail service would be reduced, making trains less frequent during peak and off-peak travel times. Headway between trains would grow to 15 minutes during most off-peak periods. Other proposed changes to rail service include:

  • Trains would run every 8 minutes in peak periods instead of every 6 minutes today.
    During peak periods, trains would operate every 2-4 minutes at stations served by multiple lines in the system’s core.
  • Service would become more frequent for Blue Line riders, where trains are now scheduled every 12 minutes.
  • Rush+ trains would be eliminated.

Also, about a dozen low-ridership bus routes are up for elimination.

Despite these severe cuts, Metro is still seeking an additional $130 million from the District, Virginia and Maryland. This would help offset a forecasted ridership drop of more than 20 percent from 2009, and rising maintenance costs.

“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,” Wiedefeld 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 proposal will go before the Board’s Finance Committee at its Thursday meeting. Metro’s Board of Directors will be asked at its December meeting to approve a public hearing, as well as other online and community-based outreach for consideration of the budget.

Community outreach and public hearings would begin in late January, and the full budget would take effect July 1, 2017 if approved.

  • Mike M

    This operation is so slick, I think we should rush an extension out to Loudoun County! Because, . . . because, . . . Europe!

    • Scott H

      Liberals love trains, no matter how unsustainable they are.
      Raise tolls are cars
      Raise taxes
      Raise fares
      Lower service

      No matter, We Love Trains! TRAINS TRAINS TRAINS!!!!!

    • One Really

      I mean the user base at RTE.772 station in Loudoun will be huge. NOT!

      We drove down the Greenway Saturday and I couldnt help but to wonder why the Metro is needed out there. I will be curious to see the ridership numbers when it does open. Seems like a build it and they will come scenario.

      I can’t image that commute from there to say Federal Triangle. That train ride will have to be what one hour plus.

      • Chuck Morningwood

        That really is the case. Take the Greenway for example. Just how much of Assburn, Bumbleton would exist without the Greenway? Now look at the explosion of development along the DTR. Is all of that concrete canyon there just for the heck of it, or was it inspired by the new Metro?

  • Yep, bad political decisions created a terrific problem…with no good solutions.
    One example, rather run the metro to Dulles straight up the toll road the Fairfax County supervisors “dog-legged” it (Bob Simon’s characterization) around Tysons creating extra stations and helping some businesses with Tysons properties make $100s of millions on their land owned in Tysons.. It cost more than a billion $ extra to dogleg it and now someone has to pay that billion and much more where “political money making” was the name of the game.
    Someone has to pay the rooster when he comes home. And the mess is just beginning..watch out Fairfax we may get a special assessment.
    The rooster is coming home to roost!

  • Greg

    Worst decision ever to bring this money pit to Reston. Just like the toll road and the car tax, we will be paying more forever.

    • One Really

      Like building a pool in the backyard. You use it a dozen times. Then all the maintenance fees and upkeep makes it not worth it.

      • Greg

        Oh, yes. And we have quite a few of those in Reston — including the ones that are hardly ever used and were recommended to be shut down. It costs north of $55,000 per year, I believe, to maintain the Shadowood pool. It’s open for what, two – three months max?

        • Chuck Morningwood

          What are you talking about? I used that pool twice last year. And if it weren’t for the proximity to , I might have used it thrice.

  • JoeInReston

    Wiedefeld has previously said that he was concerned about a death spiral, where the increase ticket costs and reduced services required to fix and maintain the Metro would end up reducing the number of Metro riders, reducing the Metro revenues. The latest solution would seem to contribute to the death spiral.

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