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Metro Asks For Public's Help With Budget

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By David Schultz

Major fare increases and service cuts are on the table, and Metro is holding public hearings across the region to hear what its riders think about this. The first hearing was last night in Northern Virginia, in a high school auditorium that was only half-full.

Brian Edwards, a Metro rider from Alexandria, says he can live with either fare hikes or service reductions, but not both.

"I'm willing to pay my fair share to ensure safe and reliable Metrorail service," says Edwards, "But I'm not willing to pay more for worse service, or even to just maintain the status quo."

Stewart Schwartz, with the advocacy group Coalition for Smarter Growth, says if riders like Edwards leave the system, it could create a "death spiral."

"We worry for those choice riders that, once they leave the system, we won't get them back," says Schwartz.

But Metro may not be able to avoid that. It has to slash it's budget by nearly $200 million before July 1st, the start of the fiscal year.

The next public hearing on Metro's budget is scheduled for tomorrow night in Southeast D.C.

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