Metro is in a poor economic state, and it seems that Washington’s commuters are about to bail it out. The transit agency currently predicts a budget deficit of $124 million for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. Rising pension costs and increased expenses associated with the new Silver Line to Dulles International Airport explain some of the shortfall.
On Thursday, Metro’s finance committee presented its preliminary proposals to close half of the budget gap through fare increases. Greater Greater Washington has the breakdown on Metro’s various proposals.
The proposal that would generate the most revenue is an increase in rail fares. One suggestion is to increase peak fares to account for inflation, effectively a 10 cent increase on the base fare and further increases based on distance traveled, and to raise off-peak fares by 50 percent (they would then be 75 percent of the peak fare), a change that would raise $57 million. The other suggestion was to increase off-peak fares to 90 percent of the peak fare, and leave the peak fare as is. This would raise $48 million, but some committee members voiced concerns that this second proposal would not encourage off-peak travel, increasing the strain on the system during peak times.
The proposals also include an increase in the Smartrip bus fare to $1.60 and the regular bus fare to $2, and an increase in the price of reserving a parking spot in Metro’s high-demand lots.
Metro is certainly due for a fare increase, regardless of the exact details of it. Kytja Weir of the Washington Examiner noted last week, ”The transit agency’s current policy calls for fare increases every two years, even without a budget gap. That means that, after fare increases in July 2010, another round is due.”
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Posted by: Juliana Brint in News, Vox Populi, tags: Adrian Fenty, District Digest, Eastern Market, Jim Graham, Marion Barry, Metro, Red Line, Taxi Cab Commission, Twitter, WMATA
On Monday at about 5 p.m. two Red Line trains crashed into each other near the Fort Totten station, resulting in the deadliest crash in Metro’s 33 year history. Nine people died, including Jeanice McMillan, the operator of one of the trains, Ana Fernandez, a mother of six, and Retired Major General David Wherely, Jr. who led the D.C. National Guard and his wife Ann. Although investigations are ongoing, it’s looking like the accident was probably caused by a malfunction of the computerized control system.
D.C.’s Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi announced that his office is projecting a $340 million budget shortfall over the next two years due to the recession. In light of the dire news, Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) discretely ordered 40 government agencies—including the police department—to cut more than $35 million from their budgets. It probably doesn’t help that the city can’t find thousands of dollars it collected in fines from misdemeanor cases..
On Thursday, June 18th, a gunman opened fire outside the Columbia Heights Metro station, shooting and injuring two. This week it was revealed that the gunman was actually working as an intern for a D.C. Councilmember, Jim Graham (D—Ward 1). Graham himself took the young man, Devyn Black, to the police station to turn himself in.
After the jump: taxi fare increases, how Twitter can help you get fired from your D.C. government job and more!
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Taxi Commissioner Leon Swain is a gruff man, but given the risks he faces on a daily basis, like mayoral purges so regular he can never be far from his heat, you can’t blame him. If he has to get a little icy sometimes just to cool down, who are we to judge?
Not all of Swain’s duties are so high-stakes, though. He also has to attend public comment sessions and experience all the little cuts they put in his vitality. Case in point: last June’s public comments (PDF).
In the minutes, Swain wrestles with cab drivers complaining about fare price, makes a woman speak last because he knows she’s a talker, and suspects one speaker of having a heart attack. Near the end of the meeting, Swain resigns himself to the drudgery necessary to drag a town into the new century:
Right now I realize that a lot of people are not happy. My phone numbers and everything else, my address, everything is public record. I have not changed my phone number. I have not taken my number out of the telephone book. I get calls day and night. Some are very disgusting. Some don’t bother me at all. But guess what? That’s what happens.
Emphasis mine. I hope you appreciate those meters.
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Mayor Fenty quashes dissent and looks good doing it. He never forgot that a 4-4 vote last year in the DC Taxi Cab Commission briefly stopped his meter plans, and now he’s settling scores, replacing three of the commissioners who voted against meters.
The move isn’t surprising to anyone knows how rough the Taxi Cab Commission can be. Why do you think Commissioner Leon Swain packs heat?
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