Metro has scaled down its hiring plans for the next budget cycle, seeking to add 877 positions instead of 1,013, agency officials said Thursday.

The projected cost of adding all the positions would have been $88 million of the $2.6 billion budget request but is now about $72 million.

Still, that doesn't necessarily translate to complete cost savings.

The agency said 60 positions for escalator and elevator technicians have been removed from the wish list because the agency plans to hire an outside contractor for repairs to Orange Line units instead. No contract has been awarded, so the exact cost is not clear, but those workers were expected to cost $7.6 million.

An additional 76 people have been hired, authorized under the current budget, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.

Last month, Metro board member Tom Downs said the agency had a "snowball's chance in hell" of hiring that many workers in what would be the largest expansion in the agency's history, pushing the head count to more than 12,000.

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  • "This is a very heavy lift," Metro head of human resources Gary Baldwin acknowledged Thursday.

    The agency has a systemwide vacancy rate of 6.6 percent and loses 5 percent from attrition each year, meaning the agency will need to hire 1,800 people in about 18 months.

    But Baldwin said the agency is taking several major steps to meet the hiring demands required to fix a backlog of work on the transit system and gear up for the start of the Silver Line, now scheduled to open in late 2013.