Ready or not, Metro service reductions are coming!
On Thursday Metro GM John Catoe presented a preliminary plan to the Board of Directors outlying how the transit system is going to fill a $40 million budget gap, which it blames on the economy and lower ridership. The Board of Directors will meet on Jan. 7 to discuss the plan.
The two big takeaways: there will be $4.4 million in service reductions, and another $10 million in preventative maintenance will be deferred.
First, the Metrorail service reductions:
- Reducing weekday early morning service by widening intervals between trains to every eight minutes between 6 and 6:30 a.m.;
- Reducing weekday peak service by operating all six-car trains;
- Restructuring peak service on the Red Line to three-minute intervals from Shady Grove to Silver Spring and six-minute intervals from Silver Spring to Glenmont, which means every other Red Line train would no longer terminate at Grosvenor-Strathmore but instead would terminate at Shady Grove;
- Widening weekday intervals between trains to every 15 minutes during midday and 30 minutes at night;
- Closing some station entrances at 8 p.m. at stations with multiple entrances;
- Widening weekend intervals between trains to every 15 minutes during the day Saturdays, 20 minutes during the day Sundays and 30 minutes at night on Saturdays and Sundays;
- Closing some station mezzanines on weekends at stations with multiple mezzanines; and
- Reducing service on some holidays and holiday-related days to be more in line with ridership.
Now for the Metrobus reductions:
- Reducing the frequency of service on low-ridership bus routes;
- Eliminating some trips or portions of trips on low-ridership bus routes;
- Restructuring service to provide more stream-lined operations; and
- Reducing some bus stops.
Where will the rest of the money come from? Catoe said the transit agency would make $2.2 million in departmental reductions, utilize $6 million in insurance recovery from the June 22 Red Line accident, transfer $12 million to the capital budget, defer $10 million for preventive maintenance, and tap a $5.6 million reserve fund.
In addition to service reductions, Metro staff also proposed closing the customer information call center two hours early every night, at 8:30 p.m. instead of 10:30 p.m. Closing the call center early could save $300,000 in FY2010.
Add that up with the $4 million in service reductions and you get a total of $40.1 million.
Metro said the service reductions do not require public hearings because they are considered to be "minor." The Board must approve the Metrorail reductions, but are not required to approve the bus reductions.