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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) board today voted on cost-cutting measures, including potential service cuts and layoffs, that will be necessary to balance the agency’s budget.
The actions would be necessary if federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding runs out without new revenue.
WMATA’s board must consider $200 million in spending cuts in the event that federal relief ends. WMATA estimates it will deplete its share of CARES funding by the end of the year, agency officials said in a press release.
"CARES Act funding has replaced fare revenue. If that funding isn't there after December, WMATA will need to implement measures that hurt the region's economic recovery and adversely impact essential workers," said General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld.
Fare revenue from Metrorail typically accounts for about 28 percent of WMATA’s total operating budget. Weekday Metrorail ridership is at about 12 percent of pre-pandemic levels and is not expected to return to normal until a vaccine is widely available, WMATA officials said.
To address the budget shortfall, WMATA plans to reduce its workforce by 1,700 workers, dcist.com reported; reduce Metrorail service to arrive every 12 minutes on each line; and close the rail service at 9 p.m. instead of 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.
"Cutting service, shortening operating hours, laying off and furloughing workers — these all run counter to the strong recovery that everyone wants," Wiedefeld said.
The board will make a final decision on the proposed changes in November.