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Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) officials yesterday announced that the more than $767 million the agency received in federal pandemic relief funding will enable WMATA to close its current fiscal year with a balanced budget.
Provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES), the funding enables the agency to cover its increased costs related to enhanced safety measures required during the COVID-19 pandemic, which also has led to a drop in fare revenue.
Due to the pandemic's economic impact on the agency, WMATA’s board will defer the service improvements and fare initiatives it had planned as part of its $20.7 billion FY2021 operating budget. The agency will instead use the budget to fund its recovery plan, WMATA officials said in a press release.
For the fiscal year beginning July 1, the new budget proposal anticipates that CARES relief funding will replace $438 million in additional lost revenue while WMATA ramps up service gradually.
The revised budget includes funds for personal protective equipment, disinfectant and cleaning service and additional labor expenses from modified work schedules. The proposal also provides $45 million in cost cuts through deferred supplies purchasing, a hiring freeze and elimination of vacancies.
The board monitoring the budget and potentially make revisions as necessary due to ongoing regional and national economic uncertainty, officials said.