Metro commuters seeking future discounts for receiving limited service amidst the coronavirus pandemic may have their wishes granted based on projections for the next fiscal year.
Some of the fare perks include a $2 late-night Metrorail fare for one-way trips after 9:30 p.m. until closing; $5 for every $25 placed on a SmartTrip card; and implementing the $12 seven-day regional bus pass which went into effect in September.
“In support of the regional recovery, the proposed budget includes additional fare discounts to encourage riders to return to Metro,” officials noted in a budget summary released Monday, Nov. 1. “The [$5] bonus may induce ridership and appeal to customers with irregular work schedules.”
The agency’s Finance and Capital Committee plans to review these and other fare proposals Thursday, Nov. 4.
Since the coronavirus pandemic affected the region last year, Metro ridership decreased due to businesses closing, employees teleworking and more workers driving to work.
Metro estimates it will reach 166 million trips in fiscal year 2023, or 53% pre-pandemic levels. For the current fiscal year it’s anticipated to reach 34% of pre-pandemic levels.
More customers traveled by bus during the pandemic and estimated ridership may reach 79 million next year. However, the agency anticipates Metrorail ridership could reach 86 million.
“With higher average fare for Metrorail than Metrobus, the anticipated ridership increase on Metrorail would have a significant impact on total passenger revenue,” according to the agency.
That’s why officials estimate passenger revenue for next fiscal year at $293 million, an increase of nearly $134 million from the current fiscal year.
Total estimated revenue: $375 million, an increase of $147 million from this fiscal year which may increase in fiscal year 2024.
Officials project the operating budget for fiscal year 2023 at $2.3 billion, an increase of $182 million from the current year.
Some of the reasons for expenses include extension of Potomac Yard station in Alexandria, Virginia; possible increases on maintenance and operations cost on capital projects; and Silver Line in Northern Virginia into Dulles International Airport to Ashburn.
To help with the expenses, Metro proposes a $1.2 billion would be needed from Maryland, D.C. and Virginia and about $716 million from the federal government.
Metrorail service update
Meanwhile, Metrorail will continue operating at limited service through Nov. 15 due to a train derailment Oct. 12 along the Blue Line near the Arlington Cemetery station in Northern Virginia.
The National Transportation Safety Board continues an ongoing inspection of the 7000-series cars after one derailed along Blue Line near the Arlington Cemetery Metrorail station in Northern Virginia. No one was reported as injured.
The agency held a press briefing Monday to announce 40 trains becoming available — an increase of eight when 32 trains traveled throughout the D.C. region Friday, Oct. 30. Each train has six cars.
The additional trains will allow Silver Line service to extend to Largo Town Center in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and not end between Federal Center SW in D.C. to Wiehle-Reston East in Northern Virginia.
The agency said the additional trains will decrease wait times on the Green Line to every 20 minutes, which previously ran last week every 30 to 40 minutes.
The independent agency created by Congress, Washington Metrorail Safety Commission, pulled all 748 of the 7000-series trains which decreased service by 60%.
Wait times on all remaining lines are anticipated by the following: Red Line every 15 to 20 minutes; Blue, Orange, Silver and Yellow lines every 30 to 40.
“Our rail maintenance crews are working hard to get more trains into service so that customers don’t have to wait as long to get where they need to go,” Metro General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld said in a statement. “We are working as quickly and safely as possible to restore more service in the coming weeks and continue to develop plans for inspections to return our 7000-series railcar fleet to service.”