Superstorm Sandy costs Metro $5M

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Local,Transportation,Kytja Weir

Superstorm Sandy has made a bad situation even worse for Metro.

Metro is already hurting this year, with reduced ridership on the transit system costing the agency $5 million for the first quarter of the fiscal year.

But the superstorm that largely spared the Washington region on Oct. 29-30 cost the agency an estimated $5 million more, Metro Chief Financial Officer Carol Kissal told The Washington Examiner. She said the system lost about 900,000 trips by staying closed for more than one and half days -- or the equivalent of 28 hours of normal service time.

Already the agency is forecasting that it could be as much as $20 million short on projected revenue from the reduced ridership before the storm is taken into account this year. Together the losses could mean the agency will have to undertake what it called "containment strategies" in a recent report.

The agency did not detail what those strategies would entail this fiscal year, but generally Metro needs to be able to offset its expenses with enough revenues and subsidies. That means bringing in more money or cutting the expenses of what goes out.

In 2010, when a series of snow storms hit the region, the agency added a 10-cent surcharge on all trips to augment lower-than-expected fare revenues.

Interestingly, Metro's ridership losses seem to bucking a national trend among other transit agencies. A report released Monday from the American Public Transportation Association shows that ridership on subway systems like Metrorail is up 2.74 percent nationwide from July through September, compared with the prior year, while it shows Metrorail is down 6.16 percent. kweir@washingtonexaminer.com

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