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Rail News: Financials

WMATA's preliminary FY2013 operating budget proposes rush-hour expansion, fare increase


The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) preliminary operating budget for fiscal-year 2013 would advance safety recommendations, expand rail rush-hour service and support a previously federally funded anti-terrorism police team.

To increase revenue, the budget also proposes increasing fares by 5.7 percent, a compounded biennial consumer price index, WMATA officials said in a prepared statement.

About half of the $124 million that the agency will require to balance the budget is needed to meet growing wage, health and pension costs, while the remainder would fund policy initiatives or service improvement options that the board may choose to fund during the next year, they said.

Although the budget assumes no general wage increase, it includes $11 million more than the current fiscal year for wages under collective bargaining agreements, including the annualized impact of a 9 percent, court-ordered pay hike for a majority of the unionized workforce, WMATA officials said.

“As a preliminary budget forecast, this is the beginning of a conversation about maintaining existing service, as well as improving safety, security and service for customers,” said Deputy General Manager of Administration and Chief Financial Officer Carol Kissal.

Consistent with regional economic forecasts, the agency is anticipating a dip in ridership (1.2 percent) and passenger revenue ($3 million), WMATA officials said.

To generate revenue, WMATA officials are considering fare options, including moving back to a two-tier rail fare structure by eliminating the peak-of-the-peak fare, replacing one-day rail paper fare cards for occasional riders with simple trip zone fares, and increasing fares.

The next step in the budget process will be presentation of the general manager’s proposed operating and capital budget in January, followed by public hearings in February.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/6/2011