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Government Shutdown Cost Metro $5.5 Million In Revenue

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Even with six-car trains, Metro still lost millions of dollars during the government shutdown.
Evan Leeson: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecstaticist/6332860492/
Even with six-car trains, Metro still lost millions of dollars during the government shutdown.

Metro has released the numbers on the federal government shutdown, and as expected, the outlook is not great.

The government shutdown lasted from Oct. 1-16, engulfing 11 commuting days. It cost Metro $5.5 million in revenue on a ridership drop of 13 percent, or a loss of 1.7 million trips. During rush hours, rail ridership was down about 20 percent during the shutdown.

To put $5.5 million in perspective, Metro's budget is $1.8 billion. But the transit authority's chief financial officer Carol Kissel says the smaller figure is significant.

"We hadn't expected to lose $5.5 million in the first quarter," Kissel says. "So what that means is we have to be pretty diligent in our spending in the quarter after that."

Kissel says riders should not notice the impact of the revenue loss on rail and bus operations.

"Well, it is just like any other company. We have a $1.8 billion budget and we like to manage within that budget," Kissel says. "So, certainly we wouldn't cut service or do anything of those things that are drastic, but we would nibble around the edges to try to figure out how we can manage our operating costs."

So while Metro may be able to absorb this hit, Kissel says they'd rather not try it again.

"What we couldn't absorb is if the federal government decided to shutdown again in January. That would be a rather difficult thing," she says.

To save money during the shutdown, Metro stopped running eight-car trains, but 70 percent of the agency's costs are fixed, leaving little flexibility.

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