Capital Metro discusses plan to cover an estimated $136 million in lost revenue

Capital Metro has stepped up its cleanings of buses and bus stops to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Courtesy Capital Metro)
Capital Metro has stepped up its cleanings of buses and bus stops to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Courtesy Capital Metro)

Capital Metro has stepped up its cleanings of buses and bus stops to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Courtesy Capital Metro)

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Bus drivers are required to wear masks while working under new local regulations. (Courtesy Capital Metro)
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Capital Metro has stepped up its cleanings of buses and bus stops to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Courtesy Capital Metro)
Image description
Bus drivers are required to wear masks while working under new local regulations. (Courtesy Capital Metro)
With sales taxes revenue and fares on the decline, Capital Metro is preparing for a major revenue loss of more than $136 million over the next two fiscal years.

“It could be $8.7 million to $13 million [in lost revenue] for each month that this crisis continues,” said Reinet Marneweck, Capital Metro’s chief financial officer, during the agency’s April 20 virtual board meeting.

The transit agency is estimating to see a $78 million revenue loss in fiscal year 2019-20 and could see a $58 million revenue loss in the FY 2020-21 budget because of recession concerns, she said.

Most of the lost revenue, she said, is because of a 30% to 50% reduction in sales tax revenue, which provides 80% of the agency’s total operating revenue. Jurisdictions from Capital Metro's service area provide a 1% sales tax to the agency. Local businesses are temporarily closing or modifying operations because of COVID-19.

Additionally, Marneweck said Capital Metro is losing fare revenue because of the reduction in service that began March 18. Ridership is down over 60% as the agency stresses transit should only be used for essential trips.


To protect its drivers, employees and customers from the spread of the coronavirus, Capital Metro is also paying for additional bus cleanings and offering three weeks of paid sick leave for all employees and transit service provider employees.

“We have directed our contractors to keep all employees on staff and not to do any furloughs or layoffs,” Marneweck said.

To offset these losses, she said Capital Metro will defer about $7.7 million in capital projects and $11.9 million in operating projects. Marneweck said Capital Metro has access to $111 million in unrestricted funds, including $61.5 million from its reserves.

The agency is also receiving a $102 million grant from the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to cover operating expenses and lost revenue.

"It is 100% to keep the lights on,” Capital Metro President and CEO Randy Clarke said. “Without it, transit across this country would be decimated."

By Amy Denney

Managing Editor, Austin metro

Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition as well as covering transportation in the Austin metro. She is now managing editor for the 10 publications in the Central Texas area from Georgetown to New Braunfels. She enjoys spending time with her husband, son and two cats.