Metro considering earlier closure, eliminating bus routes, and other cost cutting measures

Metro Bus near Potomac Yard (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

A particularly bleak budget prediction is forcing the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to consider plans involving longer train waits, Metro station closures, and eliminating many bus routes, the Washington Post reported.

WMATA’s worst-case scenario plans, built on an assumption of no increase in funding from D.C., Maryland and Virginia, include layoffs of nearly 5,000 employees, closing 20-25 rail stations either permanently or on weekends, and closing stations at 9 p.m. WMATA said all but 37 Metrobus routes are also on the cutting board.

Additionally, Metro would cut back on plans to purchase new electric buses and rail cars to replace some of its outdated fleet.

The proposed cuts are coming just as Alexandria finally got its Potomac Yard Metro station open.

The dire budget would save $300 million but still doesn’t fully cover the $750 million budget shortfall.

The Washington Post noted that similar cuts were proposed in 2020, but a federal aid package helped keep the transit system afloat through the pandemic. Still, that $2.4 billion in federal aid runs out this year.

While Metro is still the most popular form of public transit in the region, ridership is still only half what it was pre-pandemic. Increased telework, in particular, has been a blow to Metro ridership.