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Shutdown Cuts Into Metro's Bottom Line

Metro ridership is expected to be way down with federal workers at home and tourists barred from monuments.
Metro ridership is expected to be way down with federal workers at home and tourists barred from monuments.

Metro is bracing for another big hit to its bottom line, as the government shutdown will dent the transit authority's rail and bus ridership.

As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, Metro rail ridership was down 22 percent compared to the same time last Wednesday. It's an effect that is noticeable for those who still take the train to work.

"Usually there is a line here at Dupont Circle going up the escalators, you haven't seen that," said one rider.

Coming off a fiscal year during which rail ridership dropped 4 percent, Metro can't afford more lost fares, because while revenues fall, Metro still has to spend on operating expenses to propel the trains and pay employees.

"There are minor things that we can do to lower the capacity but still, we have to operate our system at maximum safety and we have to have our employees come into work," says D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser, who is on the Metro board of directors. "So the loss of ridership is an impact on Metro's bottom line."

Bowser says Metro lost $1 million in revenue per day when Hurricane Sandy shutdown the entire transit system.

Metro will remain open during the government shutdown, but may use only six car instead of eight-trains during rush hours.

Lost fare revenues will not hurt Metro's multi-billion dollar rebuilding program, because that is funded out of its capital budget, not fares.

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