Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority leadership expressed concerns this week that, despite facilitating over one million rides during the inauguration weekend, the financial costs of increasing services and extending hours negatively impacted the organization’s budget.
At a meeting with reporters Thursday, WMATA General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld said the Metro staff is still calculating Metro’s total expenditure on additional services during Friday’s inauguration and Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington; however, he expects the costs of handling and assisting the record crowds from the march to exceed the revenue brought in from additional rides.
WMATA has increased its rail service hours three times during the past week since the inauguration, including Jan. 20 for President Donald Trump’s swearing-in, Jan. 21 for the Women’s March and Jan. 27 for the annual March for Life.
The rail system recorded 1,001,616 rides Jan. 21, the second-busiest day in Metro’s history. The system recorded 570,557 trips the day before.
Despite these numbers, officials are say they are concerned the rail system failed to profit due to the costs of payment for extra staff put in place to assist crowds.
D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who is the chairman of the council’s Metro board, said at a board meeting Thursday that despite Metro’s efficient performance over the 48 hours, the agency is not receiving a reimbursement from the federal government for the additional services it provided.
“We had a million people riding the system. We probably spent more on operating the system than the additional revenue we took in. So, we lose money,” Evans said. “That’s something we just have to absorb.”
Evans said Metro’s performance during the time period improved the agency’s standing and credibility, a long-term benefit, especially as Congress begins work on a federal infrastructure package which may include further investments in WMATA.
However, Riders have praised Metro’s performance during the 48-hour period. Georgetown professor Marilyn McMorrow said in a Washington Post letter to the editor that though the system was full on Saturday, Metro employees were considerate and helpful.
“Metro did a splendid job with such packed cars and platforms. Metro officials were everywhere and so helpful,” McMorrow wrote. “I tried to thank every Metro official I saw. I know times have been bad. But Saturday, Metro did more than get ‘back to good.’ Saturday, I think, Metro was at its finest.”
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.