D.C. Metro has recommended a new budget which is designed to attract new customers and improve services for current commuters without raising fares for the coming year.
According to the Metro press release, Metro General Manager, CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld will this week recommend to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Board of Directors an “FY20 operating budget that does not raise fares, lowers the cost of weekend travel, increases rail service, and makes unlimited rail and bus passes even more affordable.”
The recommendations, among others, include increasing rush-hours for more frequent rail service in the morning and evening, a flat $2 fare which will be charged for all Metrorail trips made on weekends, and extending the Yellow Line to Greenbelt at nine stations.
“The past year has been about demonstrating to customers that we are getting Metro ‘back to good. Now, we have to get better than good as we work to attract and retain customers,” said Wiedefeld. “While there are a number of improvements such as pass discounts and automatic train operations that we can do within the new cap on subsidy growth, the service improvements I am including in this budget will need the region’s support and the Board’s approval.”
The WMATA Board of Directors’ Finance Committee will discuss the proposal this week. Funding new services outside the 3% subsidy growth cap will also be discussed by the Board, including recommendation about keeping fares unchanged.
“The Board can now turn to the question of what additional Metro service the region can afford to operate. There is no question that we need to improve service levels to rebuild ridership, and we need to consider how to do it without raising fares, which has the effect of discouraging people from riding,” said Jack Evans, WMATA Board Chairman.
The new proposal will be effective from July next year if the recommendations are approved by WMATA.