Metro seeks public input on proposed budget to support regional recovery amid pandemic-related financial constraints
The public comment period for Metro's Fiscal Year 2022 budget is officially open, and Metro's Board of Directors wants your feedback. Metro is encouraging anyone impacted by changes in this budget to make their voice heard before the comment period ends at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16.
Metro is facing a significant budget shortfall due to a decrease in ridership caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, with ridership down about 90 percent and 60 percent on Metrorail and Metrobus, respectively. Federal relief funding has allowed Metro to avoid layoffs, continue providing essential travel service, and prepare for transit ridership to return. However, even with the additional federal funding and management actions such as limiting the use of contractors and shrinking Metro's workforce by attrition, there is not enough money to fill the entire budget gap for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2021.
Metro is working with its Congressional delegation to secure additional funding to continue providing service as the region comes back to work. But service cuts remain a looming threat, and Metro must plan accordingly.
Through the end of calendar year 2021, the proposed budget would maintain current Metrorail service levels and hours. On Metrobus, full or partial service would be restored on 10 additional lines, late night service (until 2 a.m) would be added on 24 lines in late Spring 2021, and coverage to support commuter and school-based travel would be added in Fall 2021.
The budget maximizes the amount of time Metro can maintain these service levels to provide predictability for riders while closing the funding gap projected in the second half of FY22. If Metro does not receive additional federal funding, service cuts and layoffs will be necessary beginning January 2022.
The following proposals would take effect in January 2022 in the absence of additional federal relief funding:
- Close up to 22 Metrorail stations with low ridership that are near other stations
- Operate Metrorail every 30 minutes on all lines; Red Line trains would operate every 15 minutes between Grosvenor-Strathmore and Silver Spring
- Institute turnbacks on the Red and Yellow lines
- Consolidate the Metrobus system into 50 lines that would serve the highest ridership routes, fully or partially covering 64 existing lines
- Service would be equivalent to approximately 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels
- Visit wmata.com/budget to view all lines affected by the proposals
The proposed FY22 capital budget of $2.6 billion and six-year capital plan of $12.3 billion include investment in ongoing projects, prioritized system preservation and renewal needs from the Capital Needs Forecast and asset management and reliability plans. Metro's Capital Program is committed to improving the safety, reliability, and affordability of its system by substantially improving its assets — from rail stations, tracks and traction power infrastructure to the vehicles, maintenance facilities and cooling systems — and providing a better transit experience for hundreds of thousands of customers each day.
How to provide feedback
- Online: Take the survey and submit written comments here (en Español)
- By phone: Call toll-free 844-468-5748. Language support is provided in Arabic, Amharic, Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese), Farsi, Korean, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese.
- Virtual public hearings: Four virtual public hearings will be held in March and will streamed at wmata.com/budget and on Metro's YouTube page, YouTube.com/MetroForward. Click here for more information on how to participate in the hearings.
Public feedback will be provided to Metro's Board of Directors in April 2021 as part of the final decision-making process. Any Board-approved changes will begin after Board approval in April 2021.
Metro is notifying customers and lapsed riders about the opportunity to provide feedback in a variety of ways. Signs in English and Spanish will be posted in rail stations, Metrobus and MetroAccess vehicles, and at bus stops across the region. In addition to English and Spanish language materials, information about the proposed service changes is available at wmata.com/budget in multiple languages – Amharic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Somali, and Vietnamese.
Customer outreach teams will also be deployed to all Metrorail stations to increase awareness and encourage feedback. The systemwide in-person outreach effort is designed to help ensure feedback is collected from minority, low income, and limited English proficiency riders who continue to use the bus and rail system during the ongoing pandemic.