Metro News Release

For immediate release: January 12, 2012

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Metro General Manager recommends budget that continues path of improvement
Proposes cost sharing from stakeholders to fund rebuilding, safety improvements and additional service enhancements

Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles today recommended operating and capital budgets for the next fiscal year that continue the Authority’s path of improvement on safety and reliability, as well as provide more and enhanced service for rail and bus riders.

“In the last year, we have made significant improvements in safety and rebuilding our system—from replacing track and rail infrastructure, to repairing escalators and replacing buses and MetroAccess vehicles,” Sarles said. “The proposed operating and capital budgets allow us to further enhance safety, continue the rebuilding effort, and advance important service enhancements, such as increased preventive maintenance of escalators, enhanced bus corridor service and added rail rush hour service in preparation for the Silver Line.”

Under Sarles’ proposal, the Authority will also advance its fatigue management program, continue complying with National Transportation Safety Board recommendations and add police officers to enhance security.

The $1.6 billion FY2013 operating budget represents a net increase of $116 million over the prior fiscal year, and is balanced through cost sharing. This includes a proposed $53 million (eight percent) increase from the jurisdictions; SmarTrip increases of about five percent on average peak rail fares with elimination of the “peak of the peak” surcharge; reducing discounts on off-peak rail fares and a dime increase on local bus fares.

As presented today before the Board of Directors’ Finance Committee, $55 million of the increase in funding required over the current year’s budget will fund safety, security, reliability, preparation for the Silver Line and other improvement programs.

The remainder – about $61 million – supports increased expense for the existing operation, including labor-related increases of $55 million. Slightly more than half of this labor-related cost growth is due to $29 million in additional pension benefit expenses. Overall, labor represents 70 percent of the Authority’s total expense budget.

There is no new funding for wage increases in the FY2013 operating budget, as Sarles said any wage changes for employees will depend upon those same employees identifying further cost savings.

Building upon the $165 million in cost restructuring done over the last three years, the budget further reduces expenses by $5 million.

“Better is not free,” Sarles said. “And as we are playing catch up and building a better Metro that benefits all our stakeholders, we are asking everyone to contribute.”

Fare Changes

The General Manager’s operating budget projects $66 million in new revenue from fare changes that will be the subject of public hearings in February and March. In addition to generating revenue to balance the budget, the proposed series of fare adjustments are designed to simplify the fare structure; create more user-friendly fares for out-of-town visitors and occasional riders; encourage the use of SmarTrip cards; and improve boarding time on bus for cash fares.

The proposed rail fare adjustments would:

  • Eliminate the peak-of-the-peak (POP) surcharge
  • Increase peak-period SmarTrip fares (used by 4 out of 5 riders) by an average of less than five percent with a maximum peak fare of $5.75
  • Better align off-peak SmarTrip fare structure to peak-period fare structure, which would: 
               Increase base off-peak fare from $1.60 to $1.70 per trip
               Index off-peak mileage fares to peak fares
  • Set the maximum off-peak fare at $3.50.
  • Simplify paper farecard pricing to two-period flat-fares – a $6 flat fare during peak periods and $4 off peak (Paper farecards are primarily used by occasional riders and out-of-town visitors.)
  • Eliminate the short-trip pass and day pass

The proposed bus fare adjustments would:

  • Increase SmarTrip local bus fares by a dime, from $1.50 to $1.60
  • Round cash boarding to nearest dollar -- $2 for local/limited stop bus; $4 for express bus (no change to airport routes)

The proposal also includes a 25-cent increase in parking fees, rebalances the number of reserved parking permits, and decreases the bike locker rental fee to $120 annually. MetroAccess fares would be adjusted commensurate with rail and bus increases, with a maximum of $7.40 per trip.

Capital Budget Accelerates “Metro Forward” Rebuilding Efforts

Sarles’ proposed FY2013 capital budget accelerates efforts to rebuild Metro, with nearly a billion dollars ($997M) in investment projected in the year. Funded through contributions from the Federal Government and Metro’s Jurisdictional partners—the District of Columbia, the State of Maryland, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Arlington County, Fairfax County, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church—more than ninety percent of the capital budget goes directly to projects that improve the safety and reliability of the system. Passenger fares are not used for capital projects.

The FY2013 capital budget will advance NTSB recommendations, including signal system upgrades and replacement of Metro’s oldest railcars, the 1000-series fleet, with new 7000-series cars, as well as track and infrastructure projects and rehabilitation and replacement of escalators and elevators across the system.

“Our capital program is essential to creating a safer, more reliable Metro,” Sarles said. “We are beginning to see results, but it is important that we stay focused on the critical work that lies ahead. I want to express our appreciation for the support of our Congressional delegation, elected leaders in Maryland, Virginia and the District, and the business community for their support of our rebuilding program.”

Under its aggressive Metro Forward rebuilding effort, since FY2011, Metro has installed more than 21 miles of new rail, rehabilitated or replaced 43 escalators and three elevators, completed multiple station projects, rehabilitated 100 older buses and placed in service 116 new hybrid electric buses and 241 MetroAccess vehicles.

The next step in Metro’s budget process will be public hearings in late February. The Board of Directors is required to vote on a balanced budget in time for the start of the FY 2013 fiscal year on July 1.

News release issued at 9:43 am, January 12, 2012.

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