Thursday, January 12, 2012

WMATA GM recommends budget that continues path of improvement

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Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles recommended operating and capital budgets for the next fiscal year that continue the authority's path of improvement on safety and reliability, as well as provide more and enhanced service for rail and bus riders.

"In the past year, we have made significant improvements in safety and rebuilding our system, from replacing track and rail infrastructure, to repairing escalators and replacing buses and MetroAccess vehicles," Sarles said. "The proposed operating and capital budgets allow us to further enhance safety, continue the rebuilding effort and advance important service enhancements, such as increased preventive maintenance of escalators, enhanced bus corridor service and added rail rush hour service in preparation for the Silver Line."

Under Sarles' proposal, the authority will also advance its fatigue management program, continue complying with National Transportation Safety Board recommendations and add police officers to enhance security.
The $1.6 billion FY2013 operating budget represents a net increase of $116 million over the prior fiscal year and is balanced through cost sharing. This includes a proposed $53 million (eight percent) increase from the jurisdictions; SmarTrip increases of about five percent on average peak rail fares with elimination of the "peak of the peak" surcharge; reducing discounts on off-peak rail fares and a dime increase on local bus fares.

Less than half of the increase in funding required over the current year's budget, $55 million, will fund safety, security, reliability, preparation for the Silver Line and other improvement programs.

Capital budget accelerates "Metro Forward" rebuilding efforts
Sarles' proposed FY2013 capital budget accelerates efforts to rebuild WMATA, with nearly a billion dollars ($997 million) in investment projected in the year. Funded through contributions from the Federal Government and WMATA's jurisdictional partners, the District of Columbia, the State of Maryland, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Arlington County, Fairfax County and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church, more than 90 percent of the capital budget goes directly to projects that improve the safety and reliability of the system. Passenger fares are not used for capital projects.

The FY2013 capital budget will advance NTSB recommendations, including signal system upgrades and replacement of WMATA's oldest railcars, the 1000-series fleet, with new 7000-series cars, as well as track and infrastructure projects and rehabilitation and replacement of escalators and elevators across the system.
The next step in Metro's budget process will be public hearings in late February. The Board of Directors is required to vote on a balanced budget in time for the start of the FY 2013 fiscal year on July 1.

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