Metro had a strong month in March, running 20.3 million trips on its rail system — a million more than a year earlier.

But the transit agency still fell below its projections for how many riders it would carry, according to figures the agency provided to the Washington Examiner. That continuing drop, compounded by months of lower-than-expected ridership, has put into question whether the emergency fare surcharge enacted earlier this year will cover the gap caused by the faltering ridership.

In total, Metro has fallen behind its estimates for each of the nine months so far in the current fiscal year and ridership has been below the previous year’s figures for seven of those months. That translates to less money coming into the agency from fares. Metro officials have known for months that meant trouble; they started charging a dime extra on fares in late February to cover the projected $40 million emergency budget shortfall from such diminished ridership.

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