(WMATA Photograph by Larry Levine)

D.C.’s Metro System Losing $400,000 Daily Due to Government Shutdown

The third busiest rapid transit system in the U.S. is losing $400,000 a day due to the government shutdown. WMATA General manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld reported in a letter to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D) on Jan. 17 that there has been a significant loss in Metro ridership, and if the impasse between the White House and Congress is not resolved by Jan. 21 he warned that federal employees will not be able to receive their February transit benefits. 

“Our preliminary analysis estimates that for an average weekday when the federal government is closed, Metro is losing approximately $400,000 in fare and parking revenue,” Wiedefeld wrote. “If ridership declines continue, in the short term, Metro could consider staffing or service adjustments, such as scaled back use of eight car trains and extra trains to meet rush hour demands. In the longer term, given that Metro does not have a Rainy Day Fund, we could also seek additional funds from our local funding partners.”

Wiedefeld said there has been a 16 percent loss in the average weekday ridership and 8 percent loss in Metrobus ridership of over 600,000 daily trips. He added that WMATA is not receiving grant funding or cost reimbursements. The Washington Post reported that Metro is losing 50 trips per day.

“Through January 10, 2019, the current shutdown has left Metro with unreimbursed expenses of $33 million. Metro anticipates a funding gap of approximately $50 million through the end of January due to anticipated unpaid federal reimbursements,” Wiedefeld wrote. “Fortunately, in the short term, we do not anticipate any change to our credit rating.”

Multimedia journalist James Cullum has reported for over a decade to newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He excels at finding order in chaotic environments, from slave liberations in South Sudan to the halls of the power in Washington, D.C.

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