Photo by Cayusa on Flickr.
WMATA faces an estimated $90 million budget deficit (PDF) for next year, assuming the same level of service, fares, and jurisdictional contributions.
The budget gap includes a 10% growth in MetroAccess usage, increased fuel and energy costs, and ongoing labor and health care cost increases, including the 3% annual increase mandated by an arbitrator last year. Metro also projects a small decrease in system revenue based on a new regional bus pass revenue sharing agreement, where Metro will provide some of the bus pass revenue to local bus operators that provide free rides.
Another part of the increase comes from restoring $30 million in preventive maintenance which was transferred from the operating budget to the capital budget last year, and carrying forward a $16 million deficit from 2010, which was in part the result of reduced ridership, and in part due to the 2010 “snowpocalypse.”
The projection also includes another $25 million in cuts to staff, excluding the safety department, beyond the $165 million already cut in recent years.
As, sadly, we have been facing each year, Metro will need to start thinking about tough choices between service cuts which would deprive riders of needed service, more fare increases which would squeeze riders already on tight budgets, and jurisdictional subsidies which local governments would have a hard time affording.