WASHINGTON–(DC News Now) The District’s plan to offer free Metro bus rides to all D.C. residents might not happen.

The city’s Chief Financial Officer Glen Lee has recommended the program be put on hold due to projected budget cuts. Lee has announced in a new report commercial real estate tax revenue by as much as $464 million thru 2026. Lee proposed the free ride program be cut to save money.

“I think that would be sad if they take away that funding or that program,” said Victoria Hooper, a Metro passenger.

She relies on Metro buses to run her daily errands including school and taking her daughter to daycare.

“That would be sad because, especially for other people, they need this transportation,” said Hooper. “Because it’s hard to get around in D.C. to all those places, especially the elderly.”

Others also hope the free rides will start this summer.

“The way inflation is right now, food prices, I’m on a fixed income. It would be absolutely outstanding,” said Fred Dickens, who also rides the buses daily.

The shortfall is blamed on many commercial buildings that sit empty as much as half of the local and federal workforce is back in the office. Many employees continue to work from home.

The Council of the District of Columbia approved the program in December 2022, as it became law after Mayor Muriel Bowser declined to act on it in January. Lee had approved $11 million in funding for the first year of the free rides. Spending would increase to at least $45 million a year after that.

“As with every other line item in our budget, it’s the council’s job – not the CFO’s – to make policy decisions about how to spend our dollars,” said Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmember Charles Allen in a joint email statement Wednesday.

But not everyone is upset by Lee’s proposal.

“I believe citizens of Washington, D.C., we’re supposed to pay our fare share for maintenance and upkeep of Metro,” said Sandy McAllister a Metro passenger. “I don’t believe in riding the bus for free.”

Mayor Bowser issued a statement on her official Twitter page Tuesday that hinted budget cuts might be unavoidable. But she did not indicate where those cuts could take place.