Metro mulls late-night hour cut to save funds

Correction appended

Metro is considering scaling back on late-night weekend hours to save funds and improve maintenance, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said last week.

Metro is considering shutting down service at 12 a.m. instead of 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights, which would save the agency an additional $5 million in funding per year. The idea was proposed at a board of directors meeting on the 2012 fiscal year budget last Thursday.

Metro stations currently open at 5 a.m. Mondays through Fridays, and at 7 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Stations close at midnight Sundays through Thursdays, and at 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Metro officials suggested reducing hours of operation in lieu of fare hikes, WMATA spokesman Steven Taubenkibel said. Metro is facing a $72 million shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins in July.

Closing earlier would also make it easier to complete repairs and perform track work, because there would be more time to do work without trains operating, Taubenkibel said.

An average of 13,400 passengers use the Metro between midnight and 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights, according to a Metro budget report.

Taubenkibel said it’s premature to speculate if the new weekend hours would be approved.

“There are no plans to change the hours of operation now,” Taubenkibel said. “The next step is up to the board of directors.”

The next board meeting will take place Feb. 24.

This article was updated on Feb. 17, 2011 to reflect the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the WMATA planned to close at 12 p.m. In fact, they are considering closing at 12 a.m.

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