More Metro Money Woes Could Mean Layoffs

Close to 900 jobs could be cut

WASHINGTON -- Metro is facing a $176 million budget shortfall.

General Manager John Catoe said Thursday the transit agency is facing a budget year "as bleak as the national economy."

The shortfall equals 13 percent of the total operating budget for next year. The gap is the largest in Metro's 33-year history.

Officials have proposed cutting 891 jobs and making cuts to train, bus and paratransit service. About half of the jobs are currently vacant. Cuts would take effect in July.

While Catoe has not proposed a fare increase, the Metro board could choose to approve one. Catoe says specific service reduction proposals will be presented to the board in the coming weeks.

According to Metro, budget analysts said expenses increased by $159 million from last year due to stock market losses in the pension fund, paratransit ridership increasing, and rising energy and labor contract costs.  Despite growing ridership, revenues dipped by $17 million due to unfilled parking lots and declining investment interest, less revenue from fiber optics and lower property rental incomes.  Revenue also dipped due to the loss of a one-time fare reserve.

In 2007, Metro cut 254 positions, or nearly 20 percent of its administrative staff.  The new proposed layoffs would reduce the number of total positions to about 10,100 -- down to 2006 levels.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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