DMVMoves holds first task force meeting to discuss future of Metro transit system

A very important meeting will take place on Monday afternoon in Arlington, Virginia. That’s where a 20-person Task Force will gather for the first ever "DMVMoves" meeting to discuss the future of WMATA, the public transit system of the nation’s capital.

The Task Force is a new effort by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and WMATA to create a unified vision for the region’s public transit system, as well as secure sustainable funding.

READ MORE: Metro approves $4.8B budget, hikes fares but avoids drastic cuts

WMATA officials say Metro is the only major public transit system in the country without dedicated funding. Dividing up how much the surrounding jurisdictions and federal government should be paying is an issue each year.

In recent years, WMATA has also consistently warned of serious budget shortfalls. Last year, Metro’s CEO Randy Clarke announced an unprecedented $750 million budget shortfall for Fiscal Year 2025, with drastic cuts to service and staff projected if not addressed.

WMATA was able to approve a budget in April that avoided the proposed doomsday cuts. However, that budget included a fare increase and surrounding jurisdictions had to pay even more, impacting their budgets.

Asked if the Task Force will help the transit system’s situation, passenger Jay Eddie sounded more skeptical.

READ MORE: Metro budget gap could mean layoffs, service cuts, WMATA says

"I’ve heard about this task force for over about what, a year now?" said Eddie while also gesturing with air quotes. "The funding, I believe, is going elsewhere. It’s not going where it’s supposed to be. That’s why we constantly see deadlines not being met. Rideshare for Metro alone, it’s down at this point. I don’t know what’s going on – even with the new system putting those gates up. Um, I’ve seen the kids jump over it. And it’s still not – you know, nothing’s being resolved," he added, frustrated with the system as is."

Eddie was also not the only rider to equate issues with fare evasion to budget gaps, even though WMATA’s reasons for the budget shortfall are different.

"The biggest thing I’ve seen is a lot of fare jumpers. I never saw it before, and now it’s three, four, five at this stop, alone, every week. It almost makes you think, why are you paying for it? And if it’s just this one stop,  how much is that affecting the budget? How much more am I going to have to pay , cause just to go downtown is $11 for Metro and $5 for parking. It’s expensive just to work now," said Ted Getting, who also told FOX 5, "A task force is just a way for government to put off a decision."

WMATA claims the three main drivers of the Fiscal Year 25 budget deficit were due to Jurisdiction Subsidy Credit, Decreased revenue (with overall ridership still down from pre-pandemic levels) and then inflation and collective bargaining costs.

WMATA officials also warned in April, the budget shortfalls are only going to get worse.

General Manager Randy Clarke noted on social media, thanks to this past Saturday’s Pride celebrations, Metro saw the highest weekend ridership on Saturday since the Washington Nationals won the 2019 World Series.

The Monday meeting takes place at noon. You can follow the Task Force and follow a live stream of the meeting here.