**FILE** The platform at Metro's Branch Avenue station is seen here. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)
**FILE** The platform at Metro's Branch Avenue station is seen here. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

Metro’s board of directors unanimously approved a $3.9 billion budget during a virtual meeting Thursday, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic may force the group to reconvene by June to reassess the financial document.

“Most of our riders will be waiting a while until they get back on the system again,” said board member Ron Goldman, who represents Montgomery County, Maryland. “We look forward to having them back on the system and welcoming them back … to a very safe and reliable system.”

The budget slated to begin July 1 includes the first fare increase in three years with Metrorail minimum rush-hour fares up 10 cents to $2.35 and maximum fare to $6.50, a 50 cent hike.

Metro plans to incorporate a weekend flat fare of $2 for all Metrorail trips.

One of the biggest items transit advocates pushed for is extending Metrorail service hours.

Stations will close at midnight Monday through Thursday and close at 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Stations will remain open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays, but will operate on a Saturday schedule.

After public outcry, Metro elected not to eliminate several bus routes, including the D1 route (Glover Park-Franklin Square) in northwest D.C., instead combining them with two other bus routes.

However, nearly three dozen bus routes will be adjusted.

Other such as the B29 route in Maryland between New Carrollton in Prince George’s County to Crofton in Anne Arundel County would be eliminated due to low ridership.

Two other bus routes are scheduled to be cut — the 16E route (Columbia Pike) that runs Sunday between the Pentagon in Northern Virginia and Franklin Square in northwest D.C., and the B30 route between Greenbelt in Prince George’s County and BWI Airport — because of “redundancy.”

The price for a seven-day regional Metrobus pass will decrease from $15 to $12.

The spending plan incorporates $2.1 billion for operating expenses and $1.8 billion for capital projects.

A major operating expense incorporates $78.4 million for the second phase of the Silver Line in Northern Virginia scheduled to open in 2021.

The capital budget will focus on upgrades and repairs to Metrorail stations and continue to leverage dedicated revenue. With 19 stations remained closed, workers can clean and manage the remaining 71 stations open.

But the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause future unknowns among the three jurisdictions and federal government that help fund the country’s second-largest transit agency.

“Additional potential impacts include federal government shutdowns, major weather disruptions and ongoing market volatility,” according to a Metro document. “Also unknown is the full extent of federal relief, including duration and sources of funding that could mitigate the impact.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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