Post Content

Mayor: Bailing out Metro’s budget shortfall will mean ‘pain all around’

King Street Metro at sunset (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The price of riding on the Metro might go up and so could your tax bill.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said that the region will experience collective pain by bailing out the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority from its projected $750 million budget deficit.

Wilson said there are no solutions that the city can afford to take off the table.

“We will have to determine ways to reduce the cost structure, the stakeholders will have to chip in and riders will likely bear some of the cost,” Wilson told ALXnow. “It’s going to involve some pain all around.”

WMATA gets billions annually from Alexandria, D.C., Maryland, other Northern Virginia jurisdictions and the federal government. Alexandria’s commitment this year is $56.6 million in operating dollars and $16.6 million in capital contributions.

“Following the exhaustion of federal relief funding in FY2024, Metro expects an operating deficit of $750 million in FY2025,” Metro announced in a budget presentation. “This is more than a one-year challenge. The deficit is projected to continue its growth through FY2035 even with continued ridership recovery.”

Metro Board Chair Paul C. Smedberg, a former member of the Alexandria City Council, said that the region needs a reliable transit system.

“Customers would see longer waits, constant gridlock, higher fares and reduced operating hours and the region’s economy could stagnate,” Smedberg said.

Without a funding increase from Alexandria and its neighbors, WMATA reported “unprecedented operating deficits” will force it to make drastic cuts to rail, bus, and paratransit services across the region.

“Balancing the budget with service cuts would require eliminating two-thirds of Metro’s existing service, with no service after 9:30 p.m.,” WMATA announced last month. “All but 37 of 135 bus lines would no longer operate, customers would wait 20-30 minutes for trains on all lines, and MetroAccess would serve a much smaller area with less hours.”

‘Metro At The Precipice’ is at the top left of this WMATA budget document (via WMATA)

In his monthly newsletter, Wilson said a “reckoning is afoot” for the transit system now that federal subsidies have dried up and ridership is inching toward pre-pandemic levels.

As of May, Metrorail and Metrobus ridership was 50% and 88% of pre-pandemic levels, respectively, according to WMATA.

“Transit is essential to our region’s economy and our quality of life, but the financial model that has supported its existence for a generation is upside down,” Wilson wrote. “The work ahead requires defining a new model to sustain transit for another generation.”

Metro laid out these drivers for the $750 million deficit:

  • Jurisdiction Subsidy Credit: At the onset of the pandemic, Metro provided support to jurisdictions in the form of a subsidy reduction and forgone three percent increases. Had Metro not provided this support, the jurisdictional subsidy would be $196 million higher in FY2025.
  • Decreased revenue since the pandemic: Overall ridership is forecasted to be approximately 25 percent below pre-pandemic levels in FY2025. In addition, shorter distance and weekend trips, which result in less revenue than long distance weekday trips, have seen the fastest recovery. These changes and related impacts to parking and advertising revenues are expected to continue to keep revenue below pre-pandemic levels in the short and medium term. FY2025 total revenue is expected be approximately $288 million below pre-pandemic levels.
  • Inflation and collective bargaining agreements: Historic inflation caused by the pandemic and related supply chain impacts made everything more expensive, raising Metro’s personnel and non-personnel costs. The vast majority of Metro’s workforce which operates and maintains the system participates in collective bargaining. Metro must comply with mandated annual increases under the terms of the respective collective bargaining agreements, which indexes compensation levels to inflation. This cost growth is responsible for $266 million.

Recent Stories

A new advocacy group has formed in hopes of returning Alexandria to a district/wards election system. The Communities for Accountable City Council (CACC) describes itself as a non-partisan group of…

For all intents and purposes, Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor James Ross isn’t going anywhere. Actually, this fall Ross is starting work as the director of orchestral studies…

Alexandria City Council Member Alyia Gaskins has more than doubled the campaign contributions raised by her opponent Vice Mayor Amy Jackson and triple the amount raised by former real estate…

Of the 96,993 working Alexandrians, 30% of them work from home (30,015 people), according to the US Census. United States Census data collected from 2022 provides a detailed breakdown of…

Unlike our competitors, Well-Paid Maids doesn’t clean your home with harsh chemicals. Instead, we handpick cleaning products rated “safest” by the Environmental Working Group, the leading rating organization regarding product safety.

The reason is threefold.

First, using safe cleaning products ensures toxic chemicals won’t leak into waterways or harm wildlife if disposed of improperly.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

There’s a reason Well-Paid Maids has hundreds of positive reviews from happy clients in the D.C. area.

The home cleaning company pays cleaners — who are W-2 employees — a living wage starting at $24 an hour. Plus, cleaners are offered benefits, including insurance, 24 paid days off a year, 100% employer-paid commuting costs and more.

Lexi Grant, an operations manager at Well-Paid Maids, said it best: “People deserve their work to be respected and recognized. When that happens, you love what you do, and you create the best results.”

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Del Ray Kitchen Confidential Design Tour

Please join us for Del Ray Kitchen Confidential – a walking tour of recently renovated kitchens in Del Ray with the experts who make the magic happen! FA Design Build owner Rob Menefee and Design Consultant Melissa Fielding walk us

Celtic Corridor in Concert at the Lyceum

Billy McComiskey, on button accordion, National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Award winner, All-Ireland Award winner, who has played with the Irish groups The Irish Tradition, Trian, and Green Fields of America. Billy’s playing is highly regarded as are his

×

Subscribe to our mailing list