The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority could stave off the remainder of its expected budget cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic after receiving an additional relief package, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Congress passed a third relief package amid the pandemic Wednesday, and the D.C. area is set to receive $1.4 billion for public transit agencies, the majority of which is expected to go to WMATA, The Post reported. WMATA spokesperson Ian Janetta told The Post that Metro officials are “encouraged” by the package, as officials hope to wipe out service cuts currently tabled until 2022.
WMATA officials proposed a devastating lineup of service cuts late last year for fiscal year 2022 – which starts this July – with plans to eliminate weekend service, shut down 19 stations and terminate nearly half of all bus lines to offset a massive budget shortfall caused by low ridership. Following the passage of the second COVID-19 relief package in December, agency officials delayed the cuts until the start of the 2022 calendar year after receiving $610 million in federal funding.
The Post reported that Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld remained quiet about the effects of the third relief package during a Monday meeting with the Prince George’s County Council.
“We don’t know exactly what that means yet,” Wiedefeld said. “As soon as we know more, we will be communicating that.”
The report states that Jeff Davis, a senior fellow at the nonprofit Eno Center for Transportation, found that the recent package would provide the 15 largest transit agencies in the United States, which includes WMATA, with enough funding to account for half their annual budgets.
This article appeared in the March 11, 2021 issue of the Hatchet.