Metro proposes no fare increase, new buses and rail cars in FY ’07

WASHINGTON – Metro is proposing no fare increase as part of next fiscal year’s budget for the second year in a row.

Metro General Manager-CEO Richard A. White in early December outlined the authority’s $1.8 billion fiscal 2007 operating and capital budget proposal today before the Metro Board Budget Committee, which includes new buses, rail cars for eight-car trains and other expanded services.

The more than $1 billion operating budget would provide for a traditional 1 percent increase in bus service to relieve overcrowding and improve on time performance. Managers also would like to fund another 2 percent increase in service in fiscal 2007, outside of the proposed spending plan.

"And still this will meet only two-thirds of the overall bus service needs," White said. "We need a major reinvestment in Metrobus."

The spending plan also would fund more than 200 new operational and police positions, and would eliminate bus routes with low ridership. Metro managers also proposed nearly $13 million of unfunded bus, rail and other improvements, including additional money to relieve bus overcrowding and security, increasing rail service on four federal holidays and running longer trains during off peak hours and weekends year round.

The more than $1 billion operating budget grew 7.3 percent, or $74 million, mostly due to service expansion and inflationary costs. The revenue from ridership, parking, advertising and other areas, along with a proposed 5.9 percent, or $26 million, increase in the subsidy contributed by D.C., Maryland and Virginia suburbs served by Metro, would balance the budget.

"We balanced this budget with the needs of riders and bus drivers, station managers and other front-line employees in mind," White said. "The increase over last year’s budget will support an anticipated 5 percent growth in rail and a 3 percent growth in bus ridership."

In the $662 million capital budget, a majority of funds are going to new rail cars for eight-car trains, rail yard expansions, buying new buses and elevator and escalator overhauls.

Metro’s Board Budget Committee will review the proposed budgets over the next six months. The full Board will make its final recommendations on the budget next June. The fiscal 2007 budget will take effect July 1, 2006.