Shutdown costing Metro $400,000 each weekday

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The partial shutdown of the federal government means fewer federal workers are riding Metro each weekday, and that means Metro is losing an average of $400,000 each day the shutdown continues, the transit agency says.

The estimate came in response to inquiries from Virginia and Maryland’s senators, Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-Va.), along with Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.)

“At a time when Metro already is undertaking substantial, disruptive projects to improve safety and reliability, President Trump’s shutdown is jeopardizing the health and stability of the entire Metro system. This wasteful, destructive shutdown must come to an end,” the senators said in a statement.

Metro CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld outlined the impact that the partial government shutdown has had on WMATA’s transit system, ridership, operational services, staffing, financial position, and infrastructure upgrades and maintenance.

“Our preliminary analysis estimates that for an average weekday when the government is closed, Metro is losing approximately $400,000 in fare and revenue,” Wiedefeld said, listing these additional impacts:

  • The shutdown is putting $638 million in federal transit funding in jeopardy. If a prolonged shutdown of the Department of Transportation leads to delays in certifying the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) by the April 15, 2019 statutory deadline, “the [Federal Transit Administration] indicates that it would be prohibited by law from issuing a total of $638 million in FY2019 federal transit funding to all transit providers across the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia,” according to Wiedefeld’s letter to the senators.
  • As of January 10, the federal government owes Metro $33 million in unreimbursed expenses as a result of the shutdown. That number is expected to grow to $50 million by the end of this month.
  • Other federal funding sources are also on hold, including a $20 million BUILD grant that Metro was awarded last year, and $15 million in grant revisions that are awaiting FTA review. According to Wiedefeld, “If the federal shutdown continues for an extended period, Metro will be forced to either turn to its Line of Credit to support the Capital program, incurring additional costs, or defer important state-of-good-repair projects, which could undermine our recent reliability gains.”
  • The combined shutdowns of the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service means environmental review work for a number of planned projects has also been delayed.

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.