The Board of Directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will vote on the Authority’s FY2021 budget this week. Due to the evolving effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board expects to review the budget prior to the start of the fiscal year on July 1, 2020.
“The world has changed since we started this process,” stated Board Chairman Paul Smedberg. “This draft budget positions Metro for recovery, and for a day when it is safe for our customers to return and we have demand for more service. In passing a budget, we recognize that we may need to revisit the timing of some initiatives based on the economic realities we face in the wake of the pandemic.”
The budget includes a 6-year, $9.7 billion Capital Improvement Plan, with investments totaling $1.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2021. The Board will also consider the first fare increase in three years for the system. With passenger service on the Silver Line extension projected to start in the last quarter of FY2021, there will be a subsidy request of $78.4 million for nine months of mobilization and three months of revenue service.
“The final service and fare proposals the Board will consider as part of the budget on Thursday are responsive to the outpouring of public comment,” said Steve McMillin, chair of the Board’s Finance and Capital Committee. “We are funding priority initiatives for the region including a larger bus-to-rail transfer discount, a flat fare for weekend travel, and more late-night and weekend rail service. We appreciate the hundreds of riders and advocates who spoke at the public hearings and thousands who commented through the survey.”
The Board also sent a message to all Metro employees commending their dedication and commitment to providing essential service for the region under extraordinary circumstances.
“Metro’s men and women not only keep the region moving, they are also our neighbors with the same concerns and family pressures we all have during a public health crisis,” said Smedberg. “Yet they have worked around the clock to deliver medical professionals, first responders, food service workers, and people who need rides to the supermarket, to their destinations. Metro employees are fulfilling our important public mission, and we salute and appreciate you.”