09/26/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/26/2020 07:25
Metro today officially opened the public comment period and announced the many ways the public can make their voice heard regarding the impact of Covid-19 budget cuts that must be considered as federal funding support ends. Due to the pandemic's impact on ridership and revenue, Metro is heavily dependent on CARES Act funding that will run out by the end of the year. As a result, Metro's Board of Directors must prepare to cut more than $200 million from the transit agency's annual operating budget, something that is only possible through a combination of service cuts, reduced hours, layoffs, furloughs, and internal cost-cutting measures.
Metro is encouraging anyone impacted by these changes to make their voice heard as part of the official Public Comment period, which runs through 9 a.m. October 19, 2020.
Six months after the pandemic began, ridership remains extremely low, down approximately 80% from pre-pandemic levels. The lack of revenue from people riding Metro is valued at approximately $2 million every weekday. Meanwhile, Metro has put in place a range of safety measures to protect the health of employees and customers, which has increased expenses. While Metro will soon resume fare collection on Metrobus and is implementing aggressive internal cost-cutting measures (e.g. limiting the use of contractors, furloughing employees, and deferring some capital program expenses), the budget shortfall is so large that closing the gap can only be done through service cuts and layoffs beginning in December.
Proposals being considered by the Metro Board include:
Details on the proposals are available at wmata.com/budget.
How to provide feedback
The deadline for submitting audio or video comments or is 12:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 13. All audio and video comments received will be streamed publicly for the Metro Board and the public beginning at 3 p.m. that day.
Office of the Board Secretary
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
600 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Customers will be notified about the opportunity to provide feedback a variety of ways. Signs in English and Spanish will be posted in rail stations, MetroAccess vehicles and at bus stops across the region. In addition to English and Spanish language materials, information about the proposed service changes is available at wmata.com/budget in six languages - Amharic, Chinese, French, Korean, Vietnamese and Somali.
Customer outreach teams will also be deployed to high-ridership and high bus-to-rail transfer stations on an upcoming weekday to increase awareness and encourage feedback. Stations will be chosen to help ensure feedback is collected from minority, low income, and limited English proficiency riders who continue to use the bus and rail system during the ongoing pandemic.