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Metro approves $4.5B budget, announces delays to Silver Line expansion

Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld says the Silver Line expansion could still happen this summer but it will be after the target date of June 30.

WASHINGTON — Metro’s Board of Directors approved a $4.5B budget Thursday, meaning the cheaper late-night and weekend fares that started in 2021 are here to stay.

The transit agency also plans to use the budget to maintain service improvements, especially for bus customers, and fund the Silver Line Phase 2 service as well as the Potomac Yard Station. The budget also funds Metro’s capital program, which has improved safety and reliability across the system, Metro said in a statement. 

However, despite the budget approval, WMATA announced yet another delay of the Silver Line to expand further into Virginia. Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld stressed that Metro has never given a hard date on when the construction on the expansion would be complete. 

"Based on tracking MWAA (Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority) delivery schedule, the data for operational readiness will not be met next week, the end of this month, which is the latest we hoped they would be ready to turn custody control of the line stations and yard over to WMATA," Wiedefeld said.  

The Silver Line expansion will allow Metro riders to ride the train all the way to Dulles Airport. Metro leaders said it could still happen sometime this summer. 

"That means the soonest possible date for the start of passenger service would be beyond our target of the end of this fiscal year, sometime after June 30, 2022," Wiedefeld said. "Although we continue to believe that if all parties remain engaged in focus we hope the service could begin later this summer." 

RELATED: WMATA plans to bring back 7000-series Metro cars this summer; maintain cheaper weekend, late-night fares

Metro is also working on returning the 7000-series cars to service, which have remained off the tracks since the derailment in October. New digital gauges will be used to inspect the 7000 Series wheelsets daily. 

Metro said with rising gas prices and more people returning to work in-person, ridership has increased in the last two weeks.  At least 50 6000-series cars will be back on the tracks by May 2022 to alleviate some of the delays riders are experiencing. 

RELATED: Flat rates and free bus-rail transfers | Metro budget heading to the full board for approval

RELATED: Metro makes plans to produce 8000-series cars while 7000-series is still out of service

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