John Catoe

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WTOP is reporting that Metro General Manager John Catoe has recommended fare increases totaling $92 million to close the Metro’s $175 budget gap.

Thanks to all those damn unemployed people not commuting to work and not parking their cars in Metro lots, Metro is expected to take in less revenue than previously projected in FY 2011.

Thus far, in this fiscal year (2010), “ridership revenue has been 6 percent lower than expected for Metrorail and 10 percent lower than expected for Metrobus. Riders are also taking more short trips, which causes the average Metrorail fare to decrease,” according to a Metro press release.

Here are some options being considered to close Metro’s $175 million budget gap.

• Reducing bus and rail service on some holidays and holiday-related days (i.e. the day after Thanksgiving) to be more in line with ridership; • Eliminating bus service that overlaps local jurisdictional service; • Eliminating low-ridership bus service; • Increasing the intervals (headways) between trains and buses; • Closing some station mezzanines and rail stations during periods of low ridership; • Modifying late-night rail and bus service; and • Beginning rail service later in the mornings.

This is hard to stomach obviously.  Judging from some of the language used—riders “taking more short trips,” parking spaces regularly going un-used—-it seems the revenue numbers are falling more in the suburbs than in D.C. proper. Off the top of my head, it’s hard to imagine a bus or train line that could be cut in D.C. without significantly impacting large groups of commuters. Here’s a thought, however: Some corridors now have Circulator express buses temporarily running the same routes as local buses. Perhaps some of these stops—in areas of overlap—could be eliminated? After all, buses are coming very frequently in these places.

Yeah, I wouldn’t like that much either though. WTOP says the “earliest fare increases would take effect in July.”

Photo By Darrow Montgomery