Metro budget shortfall could mean drastic cuts in hours, longer waits: report

Metro may be closing its doors at 9 p.m. several days each week due to probable budget cuts of more than $200 million stemming from the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the transit agency’s finances, says a new report in the Washington Post.

According to the report, a decrease in fare revenue and the end to federal relief aid will make it so that current services can only be maintained through January. After that, Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld says $212 million will be needed to sustain those services into the summer.

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The budget cuts would likely impact wait times between trains and would close the transit system at 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. The budget will be reviewed at a meeting on Thursday.

The announcement comes after an audit of Metro's rail operations control center uncovered a 'toxic workplace culture' in an environment containing 'racial and sexual comments, harassment, and other unprofessional behavior.'

The report from the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission says the 'control center's environment includes distractions, fear, threats and conflicting instructions that prevent overworked and undertrained controllers from fully and properly carrying out their duties.'

Earlier this week, Metro reopened all stations that had been closed due to COVID-19 and summer closures. Last week they debuted a new feature making it possible to ad SmarTrip payment cards to iPhones and Apple Watches.