By Kavitha Cardoza
Metro officials have asked board members to consider fare increases and service cuts to help close a $175 million budget gap for the next fiscal year.
The budget shortfall is now higher than previously estimated and Metro officials have asked the board to consider several options to close it. Apart from fare hikes, suggestions include reducing bus and rail service on holidays, beginning rail service later in the mornings and closing some station entrances during slow periods.
Peter Benjamin, who chairs the Metro board's finance committee, says the agency will do everything possible to avoid raising fares or cutting service.
Metro's bottom line has been suffering from fewer riders than expected this year. The agency blames high unemployment for the decrease in ridership.