I participated in a media briefing at Metro Headquarters yesterday, which mostly described what dedicated STB readers already know: the $20 “Congestion Reduction Charge” (Vehicle License Fee) currently under discussion would basically solve Metro’s budget situation for 2012-2013, requiring no significant reduction in overall service, before then expiring and leaving Metro with a $60m budget hole. The hope is that the legislature will get its act together in that time and come up with a permanent funding source to plug the gap.
$60m translates to a 600,000 service hour shortfall, which does not include 350,000 hours of Transit Now service that’s already been deferred due to the recession, and hundreds of millions saved or replaced through labor concessions, squeezing layovers (thus reducing reliability), raising fares $1.00 over four years, new property taxes, and so on.
To get an idea of what 600,000 hours looks like, you can consult this spreadsheet (previously posted here), which is not a formal service change proposal, but a staff product intended to help politicians understand the level of cuts necessary.
The new news is that Metro’s fleet replacement surplus, raided to avoid deep cuts since the recession began, is in surplus mainly because there are 600,000 hours of cuts on the horizon. If all that service were to be preserved Metro would need in the ballpark of $100m in capital funds to buy buses for the extra service.