Metro finance committee to consider budget

Metro’s finance committee is expected to vote Thursday on whether to approve the transit agency’s fiscal 2013 budget of $2.5 billion in capital and operating expenses.


Riders of Metro are facing fare increases. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

The increase for rail passengers averages about 5 percent, although the actual amounts would vary greatly depending on distance. Bus fares increase by a dime for those who use electronic SmarTrip cards, rising to $1.60.

To fill its $103 million budget gap, Metro also asked area jurisdictions to contribute more in their subsidies. Virginia, Maryland and the District are expected to give another $47.1 million more this year compared with last year, bringing their subsidies to $669.1 million.

Metro’s capital budget includes installing event recorders on the 1000 and 4000 series rail cars, replacing track circuits on the Red Line, rehabbing and replacing escalators and elevators and 12 miles of rail on the system.

The biggest — and growing — expense for Metro for fiscal 2013 is its $892 million in labor and pension costs for its 11,000 employees.

At Thursday’s committee meetings, the finance committee will also get an update on MetroAccess, the transit agency’s door-to-door shuttle service for those with disabilities.

Dozens of disabled riders spoke out at Metro’s last board meeting to protest the fare hikes. Metro, which says its budget for the service doubled from $52 million to $104 million in the last few years, backed down from a plan to raise the max MetroAccess fare from $7 to $7.40.

Metro said it will offer customers to ask reservations agents to help them shop by phone for the lowest fare possible for their rides, and it plans to offer a more simple way online for users to figure out their fares. The agency is working to redo its contract for how it runs its service for the disabled and expects to start a new contract by July 2013.

Metro officials are expected to give an update on several safety incidents, including two recent bus fires, a derailment in Rosslyn, and an April incident where a man had a heart attack at the Pentagon station and a defibrillator machine that passersby tried to use to revive him wasn’t properly charged.

Managers of Metro are also expected to get a briefing on brake rotor hubs that fell off a 3000 series rail car in January.

The brake parts of the brake rotor hub failed “before the end of their intended life” and had “mechanical fatigue,” according to briefing materials. Five hubs have been sent to Lehigh Laboratories for testing.

Follow me on Twitter @postmetrogirl.

Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.

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