VIA THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER:
The extra dime per trip that Metro began to charge riders this spring isn’t making up for the emergency budget shortfall it was supposed to help solve, according to a new Metro report.
In fact, the agency says it has an even bigger hole than it forecast. Instead of a $40 million shortfall for the entire year, the latest monthly financial report shows Metro is $54.2 million below budget, with three months left to make up the difference.
Metro began to charge 10 cents extra per trip on Feb. 28 with the idea that the emergency surcharge could bring in $9.6 million through June to help make up for faltering ridership, according to the report. The transit agency planned to scrape together the rest of the $40 million through other funds.
But the winter snowstorms made matters worse. Metro shut down aboveground train service for several days in February and closed early on others.
Then, in March — the first full month of the surcharge — riders’ fares brought in $1.4 million less than anticipated, the report says. March showed somewhat stronger rail ridership, climbing above the same month of 2009. But the report credits one extra weekday, rather than a surge of riders, for causing much of the boost. Even so, it wasn’t enough to meet the monthly budget estimates.