Metro Asking Public for Dimes to Avoid Cuts

The Metro Board will hold a public hearing on adding a fare surcharge up to 10 cents to avoid some service cuts. 

The proposed surcharge would be in place for the final four months -- March through June -- of the fiscal year, NBC4's Tom Sherwood reported. Maryland and Virginia wanted surcharges up to 20 cents in order to avoid all service cuts.

Board members were scheduled to vote on service cuts on Thursday. That vote has now been delayed until a public hearing later this month.

Metro is trying to make up for a $40 million budget shortfall due in part to a drop in ridership over the past year.  According to Metro, early morning ridership is down. The transit agency is blaming that on the high unemployment rate. Last year's multiple fatal crash on the Red Line didn't help, either.

And this is just to avoid cuts to a transit system in dire need of cash for safety changes and other upgrades, as highlighted by that June crash and iterated and reiterated by a couple of employee deaths and the Tri-State Oversight Committee's Wednesday revelation about a safety inspector dodging a train last month.

Always opposed to fare hikes, Metro Board Chairman Jim Graham asked for more information on the possible service cuts, which could mean longer wait times between trains. Metro claims the early morning wait times are six minutes and proposes adding two minutes to that. The midday and early evening wait time would increase from 12 minutes (that sounds much more accurate) to 15 minutes. Late night riders would have to add an additional five to 10 minutes to the seeming eternity.

Similar cuts would apply to Metrobus service.  Thirty-one bus lines would be changed, reduced or eliminated.

Metro also hopes to avoid layoffs by not filling vacancies, officials said.

A public hearing on fare increases and service cuts will take place on the evening of Jan. 27.  Metro board members will vote on the changes on Jan. 28.

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