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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has proposed a $1.8 billion operating budget for fiscal-year 2018 that would reduce rail service and raise fares.During peak periods, trains would run every eight minutes instead of the current six. The agency also has proposed eliminating "Rush+" train service, which provided additional rush-hour trains on certain lines. Described as a "reality check" plan by WMATA officials, the proposed budget also calls for reducing WMATA's workforce by 1,000 positions. The reductions will be a result of consolidating existing jobs and decreasing rail and bus service, according to the budget document.On the revenue side, WMATA would raise peak fares on Metrorail by 10 cents to $2.25, and off-peak rail fares to $2 plus current distance-based fares. The fare hikes are expected to generate $21 million in revenue, WMATA officials said in a press release.The agency, which faces an estimated $290 million budget deficit, is continuing to grapple with safety incidents, including a derailment on its Silver Line in July."[WMATA] has to face reality when it comes to what the region says it can afford and direct those resources to best serve the riders we have today," said General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld. "This plan has Metro doing everything in our power to get major expense categories under control while improving safety and making the trains run on time."WMATA's Budget Finance Committee will review the proposal Thursday. The budget requires the WMATA board's full approval in March 2017 to take effect July 1, 2017.
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