Metro needs $15.5 billion over 10 years for safety and reliability, according to its general manager.
Paul Wiedefeld released his financial plan for the transit system Wednesday, saying major changes are needed this year.
In particular, Metro wants a dedicated yearly funding stream of $500 million for capital improvments.
The plan calls for reauthorizing the federal capital funding at its current level, $1.5 billion over 10 years. It is set to expire next year.
It also calls for keeping the current level of regional funding.
But maintaining current capital funding levels will leave a safety and reliability shortfall of $7 billion, according to the financial plan.
According to the plan, revenue from fares and commercial sources like advertising cover more than 45 percent of the transit agency's operating expenses, but those expenses are increasing at almost twice the rate as revenues.
Metro understands it is a big request, but Wiedefeld said the basis is simple: The region either wants a world-class transit system that operates efficiently and safely or it doesn't. The transit system will only get worse if action isn’t taken now.
SafeTrack has been used to fix trouble spots along the rail for months, but Wiedefeld said while it’s helpful, it’s not ideal.
The new focus is preventative maintenance, making sure repairs are done routinely so the transit system can avoid major problems.
Weidefeld is looking to cut internally as well, saying new Metro employees wouldn't receive the same benefits and pensions as workers do now.
That proposal doesn't sit well with the Metro workers union. A spokesperson for ATU Local 689 released a statement which says, in part, "Instead of offering real proposals to improve the system and win riders back, Wiedefeld has, once again, pitted riders against workers in an attempt to balance the agency’s budget on the back of WMATA’s hardworking employees."
Wiedefeld said he will be holding town hall meetings with Metro workers starting next week, but he still insists that his proposal is the best way to move forward.