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Posted at 09:56 AM ET, 01/10/2012

Metro plans closures for rest of year

Metro officials, this week, are expected to lay out a more detailed plan of upcoming track work, station closures and elevator and escalator repairs.

At its Thursday meeting of the customer service and operations committee of its board of directors, Metro officials will outline their plans to work on the rail system and for repairs to elevators and escalators for the rest of the year.

The projects are already funded in the fiscal 2012 capital program, which is expected to hit $917 million.

In a prepared presentation, Metro officials said the changes to service are meant to “improve service reliability by maximizing rider satisfaction though convenient, comfortable services and facilities that are in a good condition and easy to navigate.”

To do this, Metro said the work is necessary and a “very aggressive program of work on weekends and nights is being implemented.”

Metro also said, “to minimize inconvenience and maximize efficiencies, work is being accelerated and performed around the clock.”

One of the biggest projects Metro is tackling is installing a new escalator at Dupont station’s south entrance. It will require shutting down that south station entrance for possibly as long as a year, although officials have said they hope to finish the work sooner.

On Thursday, Metro’s General Manager Richard Sarles will also present his $2.5 billion annual budget for fiscal 2013.

The biggest changes he will propose are a roughly 5 percent hike in rail and bus fares, plus eliminating the unpopular and complex “peak-of-the-peak” fare structure where riders are charged for riding during busy times.

Metro faces a $116 million deficit next fiscal year, driven in large part by increased labor costs and pension benefits.

It plans to spend $20 million to get ready for the opening of the new Silver Line to Tysons Corner and Reston by hiring 363 new employees. Metro also plans to hire 448 new employees to help on its safety and “state of good repair” work for its aging system.

Raising fares is expected to raise $66 million in revenue for the transit agency. And the rest of the budget gap will have to come from area jurisdictions.

By  |  09:56 AM ET, 01/10/2012

 
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