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Metro GM says budget deficit shrinks by $6 million

WASHINGTON — Metro General Manager Richard Sarles says the transit agency’s budget deficit is expected to be $6 million less than originally projected.

The amount was originally projected to be $72 million, but it is now forecast at $66 million. The drop is expected to provide Metro’s board of directors with more options as it works to figure out how to close the game in Metro’s $1.4 billion operating budget.

Sarles told the board at a meeting on Thursday that rising gas prices will probably increase ridership and revenue, although gas prices have not yet produced any quantifiable ridership gains.

Metro is set to hold public hearings next month in Virginia, Maryland and the District to seek comments on possible budget-cutting measures.