Friday, February 13, 2009

Metro is NOT Looking at Service Cuts

Reminder: avoid Pentagon this weekend!

According to this Adam Tuss story on WTOP, Metro is not looking at service cuts--yet. Last night the board held a meeting to discuss its $154 million budget shortfall. Here's the key quote:

"We are not talking about service reductions yet," Metro Board member Peter Benjamin said. "What we are doing is trying to find out how much might be needed, and see what other reductions might be made first so that we don't go out and say to the public that we need to make a change that we really don't need to make."

Say wha? Didn't Metro just spend the last couple of weeks getting everyone worked up over possible cuts? I guess the game plan was get everyone in a tizzy to rally support for the ailing mess of a transit system. That might work, but instead, we think it undermines broader support for WMATA in the long run, making Metro look repeatedly incompetent and mismanaged. It's especially dumb, we think, to play this strategy after almost non-stop boasting about how well the record inauguration crowds were handled.

According to The Washington Post story on last night's board meeting, "Metro staff workers have compiled a $325 million list of "shovel-ready" capital projects, including bus priority corridors, rail cars, buses and maintenance. Metro expects to make the list public next week at a regional transportation planning board meeting." This comes in anticipating of stimulus money the service could receive.

Quick hits:

1 comment:

Michael said...

Step 1 was for WMATA's staff (actual Metro employees) to project what would happen if the budget continued as is. There was a shortfall, so action needed to be taken. Result: $154M shortfall.

Step 2 was for WMATA's staff to consider what changes could be made that wouldn't affect fares or service level, and determine the shortfall if you assume the governments are not going to give Metro any increase in funding over last year. Result: Still a $73M shortfall.

Step 3 was for the WMATA board to ask the regional transit professionals (employees of the local governments and staff members, called the Jurisdicitional Coordinating Committee) to come up with potential service cuts that would be sufficient to close the budget shortfall. This list was leaked to the press, causing the mass uproar about closing down night/weekend service, etc. It was not an offical Metro proposal by any means.

Step 4 is for the WMATA FAO committee to send back some recommendations to Metro staff for how to improve the budget's bottom line. That's where we're at now.

Metro staff now has to come back with a number, after which they have to develop proposed service changes or fare increases to send out for public hearing.

After the public hearings, the Metro board will make its decision on how to make the budget balance for the year.

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