Yahoo Finance's Jessica Smith joins Kristin Myers to breakdown her interview with Paul Wiedefeld, the WMATA General Manager and CEO.
KRISTIN MYERS: Cities have also been seeking economic aid, as Rick was just highlighting, as a part of stimulus package, as budgets are strained and municipalities are really struggling to keep up basic services. One of those cities is Washington, DC. Yahoo Finance's Jessica Smith is here to chat with us about her conversation with the general manager of DC Metro. Hey, Jess.
JESSICA SMITH: Hey, Kristin. Like so many other transit systems across the country, DC Metro is in a pretty desperate situation right now. It's facing a nearly half a billion dollar budget deficit for the next fiscal year because ridership has just plummeted throughout the pandemic. So now Metro is proposing pretty massive cuts in response to try and fill this gap, unless Congress steps in with more stimulus.
They're proposing to totally eliminate weekend service. They're closing 19 rail stations, significantly reducing weekday rail service, and cutting bus service down to 45% of pre-pandemic levels. Metro is also proposing 2,400 new job cuts on top of the 1,400 Metro is already seeking for this fiscal year. All told, that's about a third of their workforce.
So I talked to the Metro general manager and CEO. And he told me he has never seen anything like this. But he has to balance the budget and to avoid what he calls unimaginable cuts, Congress really needs to step in. Let's watch.
PAUL WIEDEFELD: They're the ones out there every day, you know, particularly our bus operators and our train operators, moving people that have to be moved to keep everything that we have barely going, going. And they're the ones that are doing it at the same time, we're sending the signal that, thank you for all that. Thank you for putting your life on the line for us. Thank you for being out there. But unfortunately, now, I have to take your job away.
I mean, what type of messaging is that, right? I mean, you know, that is not what we should be doing for these people. If anything, we should be building them up now. I mean, you helped us during our greatest time of need. You know, now let's help you. You know, why are we now going to basically change your livelihood or put you out on the street?
JESSICA SMITH: Now that bipartisan bill that was unveiled earlier this week does have money for transit and for state and local governments, but again, the future is very uncertain when it comes to that proposal. Some of Metro's proposed cuts could be rolled back if there is eventually stimulus. But the situation here right now is dire. And Metro just doesn't know what Congress will or won't end up doing. Kristin.
KRISTIN MYERS: All right, Yahoo Finance's Jessica Smith with all of those updates. Thanks for bringing us the details of that conversation.