The cost of a Metro train or bus ride will stay the same next year under a budget proposed yesterday by transit officials. But taxpayers in the District, Maryland and Virginia will be asked to shoulder a 7.2 percent increase in subsidies they pay to keep the trains and buses rolling.
Metro officials got their first look yesterday at the proposed $753.5 million operating budget and $823.2 million capital budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2001.
The capital budget includes $419.6 million for rehabilitation of 366 Breda rail cars, the aging subway cars that have been blamed for service slowdowns and breakdowns during the past year. It also includes money for 192 new subway cars and about 100 new buses.
Ridership, which is now about 1 million passenger trips a day on trains and buses, is expected to rise about 3 percent in the next budget year. Metro is the nation's fourth-largest transit system.
Under the proposed budget, the District's share of operating costs would rise from $126.7 million to $133.3 million; Montgomery County's share would increase from $51.5 million to $59.4 million; and Prince George's County share would go from $52.3 million to $57.7 million.
Four of the five Virginia jurisdictions that contribute to Metro would see the following increases: Alexandria, from $14.5 million to $14.8 million; Arlington County, from $24.6 million to $25 million; Fairfax City, from $400,000 to $600,000; and Fairfax County, from $42.7 million to $44.4 million. Falls Church's share would remain at $1 million.
Metro General Manager Richard A. White said the budget keeps his promise to Metro directors not to raise fares until 2002 at the earliest. The last fare increase was in 1995.
But in his budget presentation, White warned that heavy investment will be needed down the road just to maintain and preserve the current rail and bus system. About $10 billion will be needed in the next quarter-century to overhaul or replace rail cars and maintain the rail and bus systems, he said. "We're asking for serious ramp-ups in funding," White said.
The fiscal 2001 budget calls for a slight increase in the number of Metro workers, from 8,946 positions to 9,260 positions, most of them connected to the March 2001 opening of five stations on the Green Line from Anacostia to Branch Avenue.
Metro's board of directors will study the proposed budget before voting on it in May.