Ed. Note: Public transit agencies are being hammered by current conditions in the United States. Remarks made yesterday by Metro’s (WMATA) CEO reflect the challenges his agency faces. While he was speaking only on behalf of Metro, his points apply to the transit industry as a whole. Unless something changes, transit is facing very choppy seas as the year progresses. DCL
During a news conference [yesterday] hosted by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) with industry leaders, Metro General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul J. Wiedefeld made the following comments:
“Here at WMATA, the scale of the financial crisis we are facing is enormous — on average we have been losing approximately $2M in revenues every weekday since March.
“Thanks to the passage of the Cares Act by Congress in the spring, federal funds together with management reductions, have enabled Metro to provide critically needed service for essential trips during the peak of the virus.
“The funding has also given us the ability to begin bringing back a large portion of our pre-COVID levels of service to support the national capital region’s economic recovery. This is particularly important in Washington as we provide transportation to thousands of federal employees who are starting to come back to work to support our national economic recovery.
“We also used Cares Act funds to keep our employees working, which avoided thousands more adding to the unemployment rolls facing the nation. Importantly, these funds have allowed us to protect the health of our workforce and customers by allowing us to take actions such as altering work schedules and using rear door boarding to minimize exposure to the virus.
“Unfortunately, the Cares Act funds to Metro will dry up later this year, at the same time our fare revenues are projected to continue to be down approximately 90%, and our local and state funding sources continue to face financial crises of their own.
“The reality is that, without additional federal funds, we are left with some very difficult choices to deal with a looming financial crisis that run counter to the economic recovery we all want.”