WASHINGTON — Metro riders had a chance Monday night to weigh in on the transit agency’s next budget.
In a packed board room at Metro headquarters, riders gathered to raise their concerns over proposed increases in fares, along with cuts in bus routes and the work force proposed for the 2018 fiscal year.
Rider Chauniece Jones called on Metro board of directors to find a way to have one flat-rate fare for the entire system.
“You need to make the changes that the working people demand because we are the people who ride Metro. We are the people who solely rely on Metro, not you,” said Jones.
The proposed $3.1 billion budget comes as the system makes cuts aimed at closing a $290 million budget shortfall.
Fare increases expected could see riders paying up to a quarter more on their trips on Metro buses and trains.
“Have some compassion for those who are not as blessed as you,” said Denise Rush.
Several bus routes are on the chopping block, including a shuttle which takes riders from BWI Marshall Airport to the Greenbelt station. Buses with direct routes to the Silver Spring station from Twinbrook and Bethesda are being eliminated, as well.
“You also had the nerve to list using the Red Line as an alternative, which is honestly laughable. That would more than triple my commute time,” said Austin Boroshok, of Montgomery County, who takes the bus from Silver Spring to Bethesda daily.
Metro says some of the tough decisions to end bus routes are a result of declining ridership numbers. The next budget will fund continued safety work on the system.
Among the other changes proposed are an increase in the minutes between trains during peak and non-peak hours and cuts in the workforce.
“You’re going to cut 1,000 positions on a workforce that’s already stretched to ask them to do even more,” said Raymond Jackson, second vice president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689.
The budget still needs to be approved by Metro’s board of directors, and the public can submit their thoughts on Metro’s website.