As Ridership Drop Continues, Metro GM Says He's Running Out Of Ways To Cut Budget
With Metro facing declining ridership and rising costs, the system's chief says he is running out of ways to cut the budget.
WMATA general manager Paul Wiedefeld said personnel and service cuts will not be enough to fill Metro's budget gap and he called on local governments to find a solution to better fund the transit system, WAMU reports.
“We have to manage tightly, but we cannot be eliminating 1,000 jobs a year,” Wiedefeld said on a call with reporters. Part of Metro's cost-saving strategy for the current fiscal year is paring the workforce by around 1,000.
The number of riders using Metro in the second half of 2016 fell 12% from the previous year, leading WMATA to anticipate a $290M shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year.
Solving this problem will require service cuts, fare increases and/or increased local funding. Weidefeld isn't calling for a regional sales or transit tax, saying it is up to local governments to find funding sources. Members of Congress from Maryland and Virginia aim to introduce legislation that would force WMATA to reform its internal structure in exchange for increased funding.
Despite the system's dire problems, developers have remained optimistic about Metro's future. Ninety-three percent of office buildings under construction in the DC region are within half a mile of Metro, according to Delta Associates.