Cost-containing measures have left Metro with a $28 million operating surplus for the fiscal year that ended June 30, the organization announced this week.
Fiscal controls included a successful health care audit and fuel hedging, which locked in a favorable rate for fuel that saved the authority money, according to the transit authority.
The fiscal year ended one day before Metro raised fares for riders and increased taxpayer subsidies to meet a projected shortfall in the budget.
“I am pleased to report that we ended the year with a surplus and we continue to identify cost savings opportunities to ensure we are operating efficiently,” Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles said in a statement. “We anticipate applying the surplus to offset budget challenges we foresee in the coming fiscal year.”
It was the second consecutive year Metro ended the year with a large surplus. In a recent report, the agency said it had a $46 million surplus in the previous fiscal year.
The combined $74 million is much larger than the estimated $56 million the agency expects to raise with the fare increase that went into effect July 1.
Riders now pay as much as 28 percent more per trip — even when using the discount-providing SmarTrip cards. And local jurisdictions are paying 7.6 percent more, contributing about $669 million to Metro's $1.6 billion operating budget.
Metro had known it probably would have a surplus before finalizing the fare increases and higher subsidies, the Washington Examiner reports. But Chief Financial Officer Carol Dillon Kissal told the Examiner she couldn't use the savings then because it was only a forecast.
Metro will make a financial outlook report to its board on Thursday.
As part of the authority’s planning efforts, management is focused on continuing safety initiatives and addressing fatigue management, the organization says.
Going forward, Metro's budget will continue the expanded rail and bus services that started last fiscal year, such as Rush-Plus, the so-called "Better Bus" initiative and, of course, the opening of the Silver Line through Tysons Corner to Reston.
While Metro plans to save an extra $14 million, the authority faces a number of risks — including a rapidly growing pension expense and the potential loss of capital funding thanks to the looming .