Meeting on Metro's $124 Million Budget Shortfall

Anticipated decline in ridership

By Melissa Mollet
|  Thursday, Dec 1, 2011  |  Updated 8:45 PM EDT
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A Metro fare hike is possible next year.

A Metro fare hike is possible next year.

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Metro Board Meeting to Consider Budget Solutions

WMATA board members are meeting Thursday to discuss the transit system's budget. Fare hikes could be part of the funding solution.
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After seeing an unprecedented fare increase in 2010, Metro riders could be hit with another fare hike in 2012.

Ridership on the rails is down, and is expected to decline further because of the soft economy. At the same time, Metro says the cost of maintenance has increased, as have health and pension costs.

Metro is facing a $124 million budget shortfall. To close the gap, the board is looking at the possibility of fare increases of nearly 6%. A variety of budget cuts and cost saving measures are also being considered.

Some of the other revenue raising proposals being considered are:

  •  Switching from a distance-based fare system to a zone-based one
  •  Increasing rail fares by 10 cents
  •  Increasing parking fees at Metro lots

Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel told News4 that today's meeting is the "start of the conversation" on the transit agency's budget.  General manager Richard Sarles will present his budget plan in January, and the board does not have to submit a plan until July.

Public hearings would have to be held before any fare increase could take effect.

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