Commuters in Washington, D.C., took 20 million fewer trips on the Metro this year, bringing ridership to 10-year lows amid crippling SafeTrack repairs of the system.
Ridership fell by 11 percent between April and June when SafeTrack began and the declines appear to accelerate. Passengers took 8 million fewer rides between April and July alone. Metro made 321 million passenger trips for the fiscal year, which ended June 30, marking a 6 percent decline over ridership in 2015. Metro officials previously estimated ridership would grow by 3.2 percent this fiscal year, reports The Washington Post.
Analysts warn if the trend continues, the D.C. Metro will have a $1.1 billion budget shortfall by 2020.
“The basic old core ridership just isn’t there anymore,” Michael Goldman, chairman of Metro’s finance committee, told The Washington Post. “It will probably still take a couple of years to draw those riders back to Metro.”
Repairs and regular service disruptions from breakdowns have tainted the public’s view of the Metro system and pushed many customers into driving or busing into the District. Only 42 percent of Metro riders said the system is reliable in a recent survey. (RELATED: DC Metro’s Plan To Make System Safer Rewritten After Inspectors Find Its Not Safe)
“We need more money,” Jack Evans, chairman of the Metro Board, told The Washington Post. “If we don’t get it, then I don’t know what the option is. We have to then stop service.”
Evans wants greater funding for the Metro from the District, Maryland and Virginia. Evans is requesting $300 million from Congress to help balance their budget sheet, and $1 billion annually in dedicated funding from the local governments to conduct the necessary actions to keep the system running.
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