ARLINGTON, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - WMATA says it could close 22 stations next year if it doesn’t receive any more federal funding.
Right now, Metro is dealing with a budget deficit of about $210 million. WMATA’s 2022 fiscal year begins in July 2021 and rail ridership is down 90% due to the pandemic.
Metro says in order to make up for the deficit they need to run service at 80% of pre-pandemic levels from July to December – and in January, Metro says it will have to operate at 30% pre-pandemic service, that’s where the closure of 22 stations comes in. Metro will also close all rail stations at 9 p.m.
WMATA has threatened cutbacks before. FOX 5 checked the records and found that Metro made announcements about budget issues and service reduction at least six times since the pandemic started. This despite WMATA receiving $6 million in federal relief funding and continuing with several capital projects.
Before the pandemic, WMATA boasted of ridership being at an all-time high.
Some riders tell FOX 5 they’re not totally convinced these closures will happen.
"I know they were talking about expansions and cutting the budget at the beginning of COVID and that hasn’t happened so I’m crossing my fingers. But as someone who doesn’t live near Metro but still relies on the Metro, I hope not," Rory Hughes said.
"I don’t know what to believe. I believe that the Metro system is such a necessity to so many people. I believe, I hope, at least that there will be some type of intervention," Doug Emerson said.
The stations at risk of closing can be found here.
Once passed, WMATA is expected to get hundreds of millions of dollars from Biden’s 1.9 trillion dollar relief package which will likely close the deficit.
WMATA is accepting public comments on the budget and possible closures through March 16.