New proposed Metro budget will cut 1K jobs, increase fares

- A new proposed budget for Metro is being called a "reality check" plan by Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld. 

The proposed FY18 budget plan was released Sunday and will go before the Board's Finance Committee at its meeting Thursday. One of the most shocking proposals in the austere budget is an unprecedented downsizing of Metro's workforce-- with the elimination of about 1,000 positions. 

The plan also proposes cutting certain employee health care expenses. 

“Metro has to face reality when it comes to what the region says it can afford and direct those resources to best serve the riders we have today,” said Wiedefeld. “This plan has Metro doing everything in our power to get major expense categories under control while improving safety and making the trains run on time.”

The FY18 budget also proposes several changes to rail service beginning July 1, 2017. They are as follows:

  • During peak periods, trains would operate every 2-4 minutes at stations served by multiple lines in the system’s core.
  • Trains would run every 8 minutes in peak periods instead of every 6 minutes today.
  • Service would become more frequent for Blue Line riders, where trains are now scheduled every 12 minutes.
  • Rush+ trains would be eliminated.
  • During most off-peak periods (e.g. midday, early evening, and weekends) trains would run every 15 minutes on each line.

“The most difficult part of this plan is the impact for Metro customers and employees,” said Wiedefeld. “Tough choices are required to balance the operating budget.”

The budget also proposes some fare changes-- equalizing local bus fares with the off-peak rail boarding charge at $2 per person. The other major changes are as follows: 

  • Off-peak rail riders would pay the $2 boarding charge in addition to current distance-based fares. 
  • During peak hours, the boarding charge would increase a dime to $2.25 with a new maximum fare of $6 (vs. $5.90 today).
  • For bus riders, one-way local bus fares would increase from $1.75 to $2.00.
  • Express bus fares would increase from $4 today to $4.25, and daily parking fees would tick up by a dime.

Metro’s Board of Directors will be asked at its December meeting to approve a public hearing among other online and community based outreach for consideration of the budget. Community outreach and public hearings would begin in late January, and the full budget would take effect July 1, 2017. 

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