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Before Metro budget hearing, brush up on financing options

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By Robert Thomson
Sunday, January 24, 2010

To prepare for this week's hearing on the Metro budget crisis, riders must study up on whether the transit authority should cut $4 million in service and transfer $12 million from the maintenance and equipment budget to the operating budget.

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Or plug that budget shortfall by taking $16 million from the maintenance and equipment budget.

Or increase fares by 5 cents and transfer $11.2 million from the maintenance and equipment budget.

Or increase fares by 10 cents and transfer $6.4 million from the maintenance and equipment budget.

Got it? After this, it starts to get complicated.

The options are just part of Metro's plan to close a $40 million budget gap for the current fiscal year.

But almost immediately after deciding among those four options, the Metro board of directors will again turn to riders for their opinions on how to find the better part of $175 million to close the shortfall for the budget year starting July 1. That's very likely to involve a new fare increase and service cuts.

So no matter how hard riders study the complex options facing Metro this week, the resulting decision will be good for just four months.

But before going for the advanced degree in transit financing, let's review this week's choices for the board and their consequences for riders:

Option 1

Cut service by $4 million; transfer $12 million from the capital budget.

The trains and buses will be more crowded, and the waits will be longer. Some bus riders will have to walk farther to reach a stop. Some train riders will have to walk farther to reach an open station entrance. Here are a few specific proposals:


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