Millions of metro riders in crime-ridden Washington, DC, could face hellish commutes in the coming months as the district’s public transportation system head warned of potential dramatic service and job cuts to close a $750 million budget gap.
It’s “no secret we have massive budget challenges,” Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority general manager and CEO Randy Clarke said during a briefing Monday.
WMATA plans to reduce its 12,000-person workforce by nearly 20% or approximately 2,300 people. The reduction will lead to reliability issues across the metro’s network, a decline in safety, and dirtier stations.
During the presentation, a slide was shown depicting WMATA’s bleak outlook: “Balancing Budget with Severe Service Cuts Would Make Metro Unrecognizable.”
Clarke pointed out the level of proposed service cuts “is hard to imagine.”
This also includes reducing or eliminating service on 108 of its 135 bus lines. The rail system will have its midnight hours reduced by 2 hours and cease operations at 10 pm.
Furthermore, Clarke’s budget calls for increased ticket prices on trains and busses, upwards of 20%. This means a regular Metrorail fare could cost $7.20 per trip.
Here’s an overview of the potential changes to WMATA’s services if the budget gap is not filled (list courtesy of NBC Washington):
- All stations would close at 10 pm. Currently, the earliest Metro normally closes is midnight.
- Ten stations would be shut down completely. WMATA has not decided which stations would close, but the final decision would be based on ridership numbers.
- Metro frequency would be reduced. Right now, the majority of Metro trains arrive every six minutes or less, but without a funding fix come July of next year, the percentage of trains with six-minute service or better would drop to just 10%.
- Metro could eliminate nearly half of its bus lines. Under the proposed budget, 67 of the existing 135 lines would be eliminated. Another 41 lines would see service reductions.
- A third of bus service would be cut across D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
- Metro warned of a 20% increase in fares and parking fees. For example, the max fare on Metrorail right now is $6. Under the proposed budget, a Metrorail fare would be capped at $7.20.
- In January 2024, Metro plans to freeze salary and wage increases.
- In July 2024, 2,286 employees would be laid off.
The potential service cuts would only hurt the working poor because an increasing number of them have been forced to rely solely on public transportation in an era of failed ‘Bidenomics.’