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Greater Cleveland RTA rejects staff's 2010 budget proposal; WMATA faces service cuts to trim operating budget deficit

On Tuesday, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s (GCRTA) board rejected a staff budget proposal for 2010.

The authority faces a $17.4 million shortfall next year. To address it, staffers had proposed a 12 percent service reduction effective in April, which would have resulted in the elimination of 200 or more positions, and maintained the $2.25 base fare beyond March 31, when a fuel surcharge expires.

Now, GCRTA will hold several public hearings in January to review proposed service cuts and fares. To ensure the authority has an interim spending plan in the meantime, the board passed a short-term budget, which covers the period from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2010. The board also approved a plan to borrow up to $8 million to cover current expenses.

Meanwhile, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) General Manager John Catoe yesterday presented the board a preliminary plan to address a $40 million operating budget gap. The plan calls for $4 million in Metrorail and Metrobus service reductions, $2.2 million in departmental reductions, transferring $12 million to the capital budget and deferring $10 million for preventive maintenance.

Metrorail service reductions might include wider intervals between early morning weekday trains and some weekend trains, less weekday peak service and less service on holidays, and closures of some station entrances at 8 p.m. and some station mezzanines on weekends. In addition, WMATA staff has proposed closing the customer information call center two hours early each night to save about $300,000 in fiscal-year 2010.

“So far this fiscal year, ridership revenue has been 6 percent lower than expected for Metrorail and 10 percent lower than expected for Metrobus,” said Catoe in a prepared statement. “Riders also are taking more short trips, which causes the average Metrorail fare to decrease.”

WMATA’s board will hold a special meeting on Jan. 7 to discuss the proposed service reductions.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/18/2009