Board Committee advances Fiscal 2013 budget to fund improved safety, reliability and service initiatives
The Metro Board of Directors Finance and Administration Committee approved a $2.5 billion operating and capital budget for fiscal 2013, moving the balanced budget proposal a key step closer to final approval.
The fiscal 2013 capital and operating budgets fund critical projects to enhance safety and reliability, as well as customer service. Metro’s Board of Directors is expected to vote on the budget on May 24.
“The Committee’s support for Metro’s operating and capital budgets demonstrates our strong commitment to building a better system for our customers,” said Finance Committee Chair Marcel Acosta. “A budget is about setting priorities, and this budget lays out those priorities very clearly: safety, reliability and customer service.”
In the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, Metro’s budget will support Metro Forward, the massive rebuilding effort to improve safety and reliability including major projects to replace tracks and track components, repair tunnels and infrastructure, upgrade stations and facilities, rehabilitate or replace escalators and elevators, and purchase new buses, railcars and MetroAccess vehicles.
“This budget continues the path of improvements we’ve made in safety and rebuilding our system,” said Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles. “In addition, we are investing more to improve the day-to-day customer experience through increased preventive maintenance of escalators, enhanced bus corridor service and added rail rush hour service in preparation for the Silver Line.”
The $1.6 billion fiscal 2013 operating budget will allow for increased rush hour Metrorail service, enhanced bus service, additional police officers, improved escalator preventive maintenance, advancement of the worker fatigue management program and continued compliance with National Transportation Safety Board recommendations, and preparation for the start of Silver Line service in late 2013.
Specifically, more than 100,000 Metrorail riders will benefit from the increased rail service called Rush+, beginning June 18. Rush+ will provide more frequent train service at twenty-one stations and new transfer-free commute options for many customers on the Orange, Blue, Yellow and Green lines.
Also, beginning June 18, Metro will implement the first in a series of service enhancements to improve bus on-time performance and reliability along several busy routes.
The nearly $1 billion capital budget for fiscal 2013 includes a slate of projects directly related to improving safety and reliability, and better service for customers. The capital budget consists of contributions from the federal government and Metro’s jurisdictional partners. Passenger fares are not used for capital projects.
Major capital projects for fiscal 2013 include:
• replacement of escalators at the south entrance of Dupont Circle and at Pentagon
• replacement of 95 Metrobuses and rehabilitation of 100 buses
• platform reconstruction at Takoma, Silver Spring, Minnesota Ave and Deanwood
• installation of SmarTrip card dispensers on all station mezzanines
• installation of event recorders on the 1000 and 4000 series rail cars
• replacement of track circuits and running rail to improve reliability
• upgrading radio communications at 11 stations
• opening of the Shepherd Parkway Metrobus garage.
In addition, the Metro Board of Directors Finance and Administration Committee gave preliminary approval to the six-year Capital Improvement Plan (fiscal 2013-2018). Projects under this $5.7 billion Capital Improvement Plan will advance NTSB recommendations, including track circuit replacements and the replacement of Metro’s oldest railcars, the 1000-series fleet, with new 7000-series cars. Additional projects will include replacement of MetroAccess vehicles, replacement of 88 escalators throughout the system and a new electronic payment program that will allow customers to pay transit fares directly at the faregate or farebox using contactless Smartcards.
In developing the fiscal 2013 budget, Metro weighed public input from riders through a series of public hearings in February and March, as well as an online survey. The balanced budget proposal approved by the Finance Committee today includes cost sharing measures, with fare increases and increased investment from the jurisdictions.
The Board of Directors is scheduled to take a final vote on the budget on May 24. New fares and parking fees go into effect on July 1, the start of Metro’s new fiscal year.
News release issued at 12:39 pm, May 10, 2012.