The Metro board voted today to restore almost all of the proposed bus service cuts. They will close the rest of the $29 million budget gap with money from their “rainy day” operating reserve and some increase in contributions from Maryland.
Only Chris Zimmerman of Arlington voted against the proposal. Mr. Zimmerman had previously objected to closing any of the gap using a one-time transfer, since it doesn’t address the longer term problems. Zimmerman’s office has told us they will provide a statement soon.
Of the $29 million gap, $13.7 million will come from the operating reserve. Montgomery County has already agreed to restore Ride-On cuts that forced Metro to pick up those services and cost $1 million. The State of Maryland and Prince George’s County will also contribute more.
$2.5 million of bus cuts remain, mostly from Maryland. Maryland is cutting the Z2, C7, C9 and L7, and raising express bus fares to $3 on the J7, J9, and W19. Virginia will be restructuring the 21A/B/C/D/F, and Arlington Transit will take over the 22B and 24P. DC is no longer cutting any service.
General Manager John Catoe said that Metro expects to replenish the operating reserve because, due to conservative assumptions made during budget development, Metro typically runs a surplus compared to the approved budget. They currently project a $9 million surplus for this year, and had they not closed the budget gap with operating reserve, would have had to give all or most of that money back to the individual jurisdictions.