The proposal offers a first look at what it will cost to get the extension up and running.
The new rail line is tentatively scheduled to open in the fall, but a number of construction issues threaten to further delay it.
Metro said it will need to fill 337 positions, including 65 Metro operators, 25 station managers, 60 track workers and 86 engineers, mechanics or technicians.
The transit authority had been planning to outsource the hiring and staffing for the extension. But on Dec. 10, Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld and Ray Jackson, president of ATU Local 689, the transit union that represents Metro employees, hashed out an agreement that ends any plans to privatize operations of the line.
“We’re glad that [Metro] decided to keep this work in-house,” Jackson said in a statement. “These new positions will help solidify transit careers as a pathway to the middle class in this region. We look forward to welcoming our new brothers and sisters into Local 689.”
To pay for the start-up efforts, Metro said it will shift $36.5 million in its current budget toward the Silver Line extension through “management actions.” Metro expects to free up money within its budget through one-time sales of excess properties and savings in staffing expenses, spokesman Ian Jannetta said in a statement.
The transit authority said it also will need nearly $7.8 million each from the District and Maryland, while Virginia, where the Silver Line runs, is being asked to kick in nearly $8 million.
Maryland and Virginia in recent years have been reluctant to increase subsidies. In 2018, both states initially balked at a plan to expand rush-hour service, offer customers a flat weekend fare and extend the service of some rail lines because it pushed them over an agreed upon 3 percent limit in how much subsidies can grow year over year. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has also complained that the state spends too much on transit rather than roads, and Maryland delayed contributing its full subsidy last year until several financial questions over usage and audits had been resolved.
In total, Metro’s budget this year would grow to $1.25 billion from $1.15 billion if the Silver Line operating budget is approved. Of that, subsidies provided by the District would now account for nearly $416 million. Maryland’s total contribution would be nearly $440 million this year, while Virginia would provide nearly $294 million.
The start-up costs for the extension are only the beginning. Next year, Metro projects that it will still need $30 million for setup costs and an additional $90 million for operations, which include employee salaries. About $5 million of that cost should be offset from fare revenue, according to Metro’s budget plans.
The Metro board will review the Silver Line budget plan on Thursday at its regularly scheduled meeting.
Construction of the extension is being overseen by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and is being paid for with nearly $2 billion in loans from the U.S. Transportation Department and more than $300 million from Virginia.
Construction flaws have delayed the project several months. While a tentative opening is slated for the fall, at least four major construction issues need to be resolved before trains begin service on the tracks, Metro has said.
They include cracks in the precast concrete panels at some of the extension’s six new stations that may require frequent, expensive maintenance, and excessive curvature in track plates creating unwanted gaps between plates and ties, Metro records show. Testing of the automatic train control system, which allows control-room operators to slow train speeds, has been delayed because of a software validation issue. Testing was slated to shut down the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station for 13 weekends starting in November.
The alleged construction flaws are being investigated by Metro’s inspector general and the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission.