Metro is proposing a grim budget for fiscal year 2018 to solve their financial problems, according to a document from the transit agency.
The budget will reduce the workforce by 1,000 positions, cut health care expenses and reduce rail and bus services. Metro has to close a nearly $300 million budget gap.
In addition to the personnel cuts, rail service would be changed to increase wait times between trains beginning in July 2017.
- During peak periods, trains would operate every 2-4 minutes at stations served by multiple lines in the system’s core.
- Trains would run every 8 minutes in peak periods instead of every 6 minutes today. Service would become more frequent for Blue Line riders, where trains are now scheduled every 12 minutes. Rush+ trains would be eliminated.
- During most off-peak periods (e.g. midday, early evening, and weekends) trains would run every 15 minutes on each line.
The budget also proposes fare increases for bus and rail riders.
The proposal raises the local bus fare from $1.75 to $2 per trip. Off-peak rail riders would also see a jump to $2 for base fare in addition to current distance-based fares.
The bottom line on fares is all bus and rail riders would pay a minimum of 5 cents more or a maximum of 25 cents more per trip.
“Metro has to face reality when it comes to what the region says it can afford and direct those resources to best serve the riders we have today,” said Metro General Manager Wiedefeld on Sunday. “This plan has Metro doing everything in our power to get major expense categories under control while improving safety and making the trains run on time.”
Riders and front line Metro employees called the possible fare increases and service cuts unforgiving.
"Why would they raise them when they are closing early?" said Metro rider Sheediah Jones. "I mean, they need to compensate us."
"That's the main reason why people do not come back to the system, because you've cut their routes or your added time to their travel," said Jackie Jeter, president of ATU Local 689.
The final budget must be approved by March in order to take effect by July.