As Deficit Looms, Metro Considers Shuttering Weekend Service, Closing Stations

Metro is considering plans to eliminate weekend service as the system grapples with how to fill a nearly $500 million deficit.

The proposal, which the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board will hear on Friday, would also call for trains to run every half hour, shutter 19 stations and slash bus service levels.

According to the proposal, Metro would offer an “affordable bare-bones service network to sustain essential travel and support the region’s recovery.” Under the proposal, ridership would be reduced to around 45 percent of pre-pandemic levels. The system would also close at 9 p.m.

“We’re facing. obviously, a historic budget crisis. It started in (fiscal year) 21 and will continue in (fiscal year) 22,” Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said.

But a federal coronavirus relief package that could include funding for public transit could change the otherwise grim outlook of the overall system.  According to the American Public Transit Association, public transit needs $32 billion just to survive.

Metro was awarded $800 million from the CARES Act in May — funding that runs out early next year.

Nineteen stations with low ridership would close during the pandemic. Reopening would be determined based on the financial health of Metro. Weekday rail services would end two hours early at 9 p.m.  Weekend service would be eliminated entirely and bus service would be slashed from 60 to 41 routes.

The proposal also calls on cutting 2,400 jobs in addition to workforce cuts already enacted this year.

The opening of additional Silver Line stations into Loudoun County will not be affected by the budget slashes, according to the presentation.

Metro’s fiscal year begins in July. Public hearings and outreach campaigns are planned until March.

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