D.C. councilman says new Metro budget could 'inconvenience' riders

Metro officials called it 'a reality check budget' that would cut 1,000 jobs.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - After Metro announced its ‘reality check’ budget plan on Sunday, riders chimed in about how it might affect them – from increased fares to changed service times.

Toya Jones said she is against any price increases.

“They need to stop doing that,” she said. “Get their stuff together and stop hiking up these prices.”

D.C. Councilman and Metro Board Chair Jack Evans agreed. He said he believes the proposal will inconvenience riders. He added he will vote against the proposed budget as is.

"Public transportation is not a business,” Evans said. “It's a service that we provide people."

The proposal for Fiscal Year 2018 calls for cuts to 1,000 positions, an increase in fares for buses and trains and longer wait times during peak period hours.

RELATED: Metro proposed budget plan cuts 1,000 positions, increases fares and wait time

In Metro’s press release, the agency said it expected financial contributions from D.C. to increase eventually by $47 million. It projected Maryland and Virginia to increase their contributions by $44 million and $39 million respectively.

Evans believed that instead of raising fares, Metro could ask the three jurisdictions to contribute even more.

“I would double those [contributions],” he said. “So, that will give you an additional 130 million dollars."

But Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefelt said Metro has “to face reality.”

“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,” he said.

WUSA9 reached out to the Metro Transit Workers Union about the proposed cuts to Metro’s workforce. A spokesperson declined to comment.

Among other cuts, Metro’s proposed budget could also get rid of certain employee healthcare expenses.

“The most difficult part of this plan is the impact for Metro customers and employees,” Wiedefeld’s statement reads. “Tough choices are required to balance the operating budget.”

RELATED: Metro's Red line shut down from NoMa Gallaudet and Fort Totten for safety work

In a press release, Metro said riders could see the following changes on the rails:

  • During peak periods, trains would operate every 2-4 minutes at stations served by multiple lines in the system’s core.
  • Trains would run every 8 minutes in peak periods instead of every 6 minutes today.
  • Service would become more frequent for Blue Line riders, where trains are now scheduled every 12 minutes.
  • Rush+ trains would be eliminated.
  • During most off-peak periods (e.g. midday, early evening, and weekends) trains would run every 15 minutes on each line.

Many fares could change too.

Under the proposed budget, off-peak rail customers would pay the $2 boarding charge in addition to Metro’s current distance-based fares. The boarding charge would increase during peak hours by ten cents to $2.25 with a new maximum fare of $6.

As for buses, one-way local bus fares could increase from $1.75 to $2, while express bus fares would increase from $4 to $4.25.

Metro says customers could even see daily parking fees go up by 10 cents too.

The changes could go into effect July 1, 2017, if Metro’s board approves them in March.

MORE: Red Line closures face Monday morning test


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