Metro not cutting service (yet) due to government shutdown

WASHINGTON — Metro is still considering whether it will need to cut service due to the government shutdown.

“There’s things that we have to start to think about, but none of them are obviously things that we’d like to do,” General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said Thursday.

The transit agency believes it is losing $400,000 each weekday due to the shutdown, largely due to decreased ridership by furloughed workers and contractors.

While Loudoun County Transit, Fairfax Connector and, as of Friday, Maryland’s MTA transit systems are offering free rides for furloughed feds or those working without pay, Wiedefeld said Metro would face issues implementing a similar program.

“There’s lots of issues [with] that. We are looking at things we can do for the federal employees. We’re just, we’re not there yet,” Wiedefeld said.

Federal workers could face an additional hit this week as they miss another paycheck, since at least some agencies are expected to miss funding transit benefits for February. That could drive down ridership further.

“No one knows when this ends,” Wiedefeld said. “We’re monitoring it. At some point we’ll come back to the board with some recommendations on what needs to be done whether it’s just additional revenues or other things we can do to reduce costs. But we’re not there yet.”

Ultimately, he said he expects to leave it to the Metro Board to decide whether to stick with regularly scheduled service, which would require additional local government contributions, or to consider ways to cut service during the shutdown.

The Metro Board is next scheduled to have committee meetings Feb. 14. The next formal board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 28.

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