McAuliffe Orders WMATA Review

Governor McAuliffe has ordered a sweeping review of WMATA, the Washington area's train-wreck of a commuter rail system.

Governor McAuliffe has ordered a sweeping review of WMATA, the Washington area’s train-wreck of a commuter rail system.

Governor Terry McAuliffe has announced an independent review of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (MWATA), the troubled organization that runs rail and bus systems in the Washington metropolitan area. Hampered by massive maintenance backlogs, high labor costs, safety issues and declining ridership, the authority requires billions of dollars in capital funds and hundreds of millions a year in operating funds to reverse a devastating loss of traffic. There is no consensus on where the money will come from.

Ray LaHood, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, will lead an “objective, top-down review” of WMATA, said a statement issued by the governor’s office today. Virginia will pay for the review but will not control it. WMATA is governed by an interstate compact between Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

WMATA’s rail and bus operations move more than one million people a day, making it essential to the Washington-area economy. “Unfortunately,” the statement said, “WMATA today has significant problems that hinder its ability to serve this region’s residents and businesses. It did not happen overnight. It is the result of decades worth of decisions.”

“Everything will be looked at, including operating, governance, and financial conditions,” the statement said. That includes board governance, labor policy, and long-term financial stability. The study will benchmark system costs and expenses, governance, funding levels, cost recovery, maintenance costs, and rail safety incidents. A final report is expected to be issued this November.

The latest fiasco. There was no explanation of what prompted McAuliffe’s decision to launch the review, but news of another management fiasco today illustrates how badly WMATA has broken down. Federal track inspectors have found that the new 7000-series rail cars, which are heavier than the older cars, may be damaging the tracks, reports the Washington D.C. Patch.

WMATA purchased 528 of the 7000-series rail cars in 2013. News reports revealed last year that the cars wouldn’t be used on Blue, Orange and Silver lines because they can’t navigate a steep curve on a stretch of tracks shared by the three lines. Then this year, it was reported that the trains were experiencing failures every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, way below the contract expectations of 20,800 miles.

The decision in 2013 to purchase rail cars that can’t navigate a critical curve, experience failures at three times the contracted rate, and also damage the rail lines is a management failure of spectacular proportions — and the responsibility doesn’t go back decades.

McAuliffe’s decision to act is welcome, even if it’s overdue. The Commonwealth of Virginia cannot continue to dump money into a dysfunctional organization without concrete assurances that the money won’t be wasted.

Update: I was curious about how the McAuliffe administration came to the decision to launch this review but had no insight to share when I made this post. Turns out that the 2017 budget bill called for it, ordering the Secretary of Transportation to “initiate an objective review of the operating, governance and financial conditions” at mWATA.

The review shall encompass the following: (1) the legal and organizational structure of WMATA,; (2) the composition and qualifications of the WMATA board of directors; (3) potential strategies to reduce the growth in labor costs; (4) options to improve the sustainability of employee retirement plans; (5) safety and reliability; and (6) efficiency of operations.

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29 responses to “McAuliffe Orders WMATA Review

  1. It sure needs a review and a new governing structure. Bob Simon, the founder of Reston, predicted this a couple of years before he passed away at lunch one day. He said there were too many political driven elements to expanding Metro to Reston and on to Dulles AP and that the cost of that would soon be a crisis. And he was right.

  2. If WAMA has been underfunded – bad stuff will happen including dysfunction.

    I’m not saying it is underfunded but the fact that they’ve never agreed on how to fund it is a potential symptom.

    It really does no real good to cite: ” massive maintenance backlogs, high labor costs, safety issues and declining ridership, the authority requires billions of dollars in capital funds ” if you don’t know two important things:

    1. – how much SHOULD IT COST?
    2. – how does it compare to peer systems?

    When you underfund or do not have a predictable funding stream – people inside the organization are forced to make short term choices that invariably will result in spending that is not cost effective.

    You rob Peter to pay Paul.. or an unexpected problem forces money to be diverted from something else.

    I do not buy the ” high labor costs” either unless, again, you have some comparative data… other than a bias against union labor.

    Most of these systems use union labor.. so making that argument against WMATA by itself really does not meany much except those who make that argument – have a preconceived bias against union labor. ‘

    If most of the peer systems are also union – then why use that argument against one of them?

    • The Washington Times did a superb series in 2012 describing massive and widespread labor-related issues that contributed to the dysfunctional corporate culture of WMATA:

      http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/mar/26/metro-derailed-by-culture-of-complacence-incompete/

      I don’t have time to regurgitate the whole thing. Read it yourself.

      I look forward to seeing your inevitable criticism of the reporting.

    • How much should it cost? Less than it does. Metrorail is losing riders over many factors, including price. If another transportation system, say airlines, taxis, or intercity buses, was in the same predicament, it would look to reduce operating costs. Union or nonunion. White or black. It cannot afford its employee compensation structure. Cuts need to be made.

      And keep in mind that many of you have just pushed for spending more tax dollars on health care expansion and some have said or at least implied spend less for other needs, such as transportation. Yet, we’re back exactly where I said we are: everyone wants more tax dollars for everything.

      I think the Governor has taken a good step. Hopefully, the study will be unbiased and look at economic realities.

      • TMT – can you cite a subway system in the US that costs the right amount?

        the problem with the critics here – is they don’t know what is a “good” subway system.. in fact they don’t care… all of them are bad, right?

        • Larry your question doesn’t make sense in this context. If there were a regulatory body that reviewed costs and approve fares, there would be a reasonable cost and fare.

          WMATA’s cost increases regularly exceed the increases in costs for other transit systems. That’s a good sign of a problem. Would you go to a grocery store that continually raised its prices faster than the competition?

          WMATA’s compensation costs are out of line. Notice the member jurisdictions don’t expand Metro Bus, but add the their own lines because costs are lower.

          Consumers are also voting with their feet. They are not riding Metrorail in part caused by high fares vis a vis crappy service.

          And I regularly rode Metrorail from 1985-2005, except when child care duties required I drive (summer camp). I stopped in 2005 because I didn’t go to D.C. daily any more. But 90% of the times when I go to D.C., I still take rail. So I’m not anti-rail. I’m anti-inefficient government agency that wants more of my tax dollars.

  3. This is the first paragraph of the “story”:

    ” Ninety-seven percent of the bus and train operators at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority are black, with only six white women out of more than 3,000 drivers, according to Metro documents — a lack of diversity at one of the region’s largest employers that has led to an acknowledgment of failure in affirmative-action documents and spawned a series of lawsuits.
    The homogeneity, interviews with dozens of current and former Metro workers indicated, is a proxy to a clubby culture of favoritism in which merit has little to do with promotions, and accountability, such as noting safety violations, is a career death knell. In typical examples, court and Metro records show, a black man who spent eight years in prison for dealing PCP was promoted to a high-level management position soon after his release, and whites in the same positions as blacks with far less seniority are inexplicably paid less.”

    just citing “labor issues” does not mean anything at all .. it’s more of this narrative that does not use hard data… to make the case.

    There’s not word one in this article about labor costs – much less comparing WMATA labor costs to other subways systems.

    but why would you expect anything really objective from this paper in the first place? This whole article was about black/white hiring issues..

    I don’t dispute there are “issues” but the way you guys go about it – is not objective… you just cite a litany of “wrongs” as your “proof” that METRO is wasteful and “bad” .. and it’s a habit used over and over as a cudgel against many other govt agencies and functions – without any suggestions for reform or pointing to a model that works better – nope..

    • I won’t disagree with you on this one. The Washington Times has a tabloid mentality these days — a red-meat-conservative tabloid, a print version of Fox, too close for comfort to partisan territory; but it sure doesn’t hurt to have two papers in town. Yes, the allegation that there was racial bias and a “clubby culture of favoritism” was certainly there, and intentional, without a whole lot of data to support it. I believe the WP wrote some similar articles about WMATA years ago but I haven’t searched for them. The WT does serve a useful purpose prodding the Washington Post and the regionals to look into things, perhaps to rebut the WT, but also because the WT would look into matters that were too P.C. for the pre-Trump era then allowing the WP to write about it under cover of “rebuttal.”

      • It rankles me that Bacon references it LIKE it is a legitimate source of “news”!

        Clearly if you read this article you can see that it’s not really about the financial, operational, other woes of WMATA but instead accusations of racial bias in hiring and personnel practices – not just on the subway but the bus system also….

        I SUPPORT the Review and I also note an important aspect of WMATA and that it – it’s a 3 state quasi-govt organization that has never been adequately financially supported by the 3 jurisdictions because they apparently cannot agree on their respective shares or where the money comes from.

        When you do this to ANY organization – i.e. chronically underfund it or even worse fund it – sporadically and inconsistently so that it is unable to plan effectively.. that alone causes waste and dysfunctionality.

        And that aspect has been brought up over and over in each “review”.

        It’s a problem a big problem but more than a little of the criticism is coming from folks who are opposed conceptually to the idea of transit, subways and govt operating them especially if they conform to Davis-Bacon labor practices.

        They roll up all these things into what boils down to an anti-transit/anti-govt narrative..

        Clearly in major cities in advanced economy countries around the world – they consider public transportation as critical and necessary infrastructure that – just like roads – has it’s issues with funding, maintenance, and operation… it’s not a failure of “govt” no more or less than private sector issues either.

        In this country – public transportation is basically an unending target of the right – who churn out “news” regularly to point out the “failures” of organizations like WMATA.

        It’s got it’s problems – no question about it but again when you do not adequately fund ANY organization.. which fits right in with the “starve the beast” folks – it’s almost like they enjoy watching an organization falter and succumb if it is a govt-funded entity… it “fits” their basic philosophy.

        Again – I support the review – but we’ve had a number of them and all they are – are fodder for those who want to articulate the “sins” .. as opposed to reforms to push WMATA to better operation – which would start with an honest accounting of what they need financially – to operate – AND to plan ahead for capital needs.

        Imagine doing this kind of approach with VDOT – where they never knew more than a year or two ahead – what their funding stream would be – and they were forced every year to move money around to deal with the latest crises… but for some reason the anti-transit folks LOVE their roads – except of late when VDOT has begun to actually turn over some roads to private-sector tolling.. OH THE OUTRAGE!!!

        Can you imagine? VDOT has spent BILLIONS of dollars and they still have “gridlock” on the regions roads ! Geeze oh Man – it must be because they have too many highly paid govt bureaucrats that are wasting money hand over fist .. too many people being paid too much… and the PROOF of all of this is the fact that they have all this aging and obsolete infrastructure that they have FAILED to maintain..adequately – because of course they have squandered taxpayer dollars by giving that money to private sector toll companies that are also screwing people who have already paid their taxes for roads. Oh the HORROR!

  4. More and more of these things are anecdotal and “perceptions” which are then used as if they were real data that actually supported some legitimate point.

    Mind you – it’s the same folks who demand absolute incontrovertible “proof” for Global Warming? but labor unions and school discipline? No Problem. Just take a survey of perceptions and get a few personal observations and POOF – you’ve got “PROOF”!

    So back to the front.

    Does METRO cost more than it should? How could you tell?

    How does METRO compare to other subway systems?

    let me guess.. these are not “important’. What’s important is that they got “issues” .. and worst of all – they got UNIONS! feather-bedding by gawd. Good Gawd!!! Unions! and “massive” problems.. and besides they are “dysfunctional” also.

    Of course no one wants to fund them.. just “starve the beast” and when it breaks then of course that’s proof it is a bad system, right?

    Geeze, I wonder if VDOT has “issues” also… I mean they spend billions of dollars and we STILL have Congestion, potholes, “bad” bridges, PPTA disasters… and now.. TOLLS… cuz they’re in cahoots with those dang for-profit wallet-sucking toll companies!!

    wait.. there’s MORE .. look at how badly UVA hides money and screws students over outrageous tuition…

    wait.. there’s MORE… have you heard about Petersburg or Richmond where bad people are running amok and looting their treasuries.

    wait.. there’s MORE…

  5. here is your basic problem:

    ” Metro, the nation’s second-busiest transit system, is the only large transit network in the U.S. without a dedicated revenue stream. The District, Maryland and Virginia subsidize the system’s operating budget, but for Metro to get more money, those jurisdictions all have to agree.
    ….
    District Mayor Muriel Bowser has said the region needed to agree on a regional sale tax, possibly as low 0.5 percent on retail sales, to give Metro the money it needs to serve a growing population. But McAuliffe and Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan have been cool to the proposal.”

    all the talk about all the “problems” is just fatuous foolishness if you’re not going to address the fundamental underlying need.

    If you do not adequately fund or at least assure predictable, reliable funding stream – you are actually causing many if not most of these other problems – which are never going to be solved as long as you’re dooming them to run a system without the minimum-need funding levels needed to sustain it.

    the rest of the complaints about the “failings” is mostly ideological blather coming from folks who are opposed to the CONCEPT of public transit to begin with.

    If you ask these same folks to show you a “good” public transit system that they like and they think is well run – you’re gonna hear nothing but crickets.
    Their “answer” to public transit is …. you guessed it – BRT and Uber both of which actually rely on publicly-funded roads.. which are said to be so overcrowded that they cannot handle more traffic..

    You’d think that Bacon would AT LEAST include in his narrative this fundamental issue.. just as a matter of objectivity!

    • WMATA already has a steady, reliable funding stream — contributions from state and local governments. The problem is that WMATA needs more money, and more money, and more money.

      Let’s say WMATA instead had a “dedicated” funding stream, as you seem to think is so critical. Let’s imagine that it had, to pick a number, a 1% sales tax in all WMATA-served jurisdictions dedicated to funding WMATA operations — a figure that had been decided upon decades ago to serve WMATA’s needs at that time. Well, through gross mismanagement, WMATA now needs more than that dedicated funding stream. The authority still would be in a crisis because it would have to go back to the states and localities and bump that dedicated funding stream up, say, 1 1/2 percent.

      In your desperate effort to avoid accountability for government (or in this case, quasi-government) failure, you’re grasping at straws.

      • Read Dan Tangherlini’s post in Greater Greater Washington about a dedicated tax source for WMATA. https://ggwash.org/view/62555/this-is-how-you-fix-metros-funding-problems

        “Luckily, consensus has begun to coalesce around the idea of dedicated funding. While a positive step — and maybe the only politically palatable one — it has begun to coalesce around a source that is neither adequate nor directly relevant: a sales tax. This particular type of tax is also known to be regressive and is prone to economic shocks that slow or shrink consumption.

        “Instead, Metro’s dedicated funding should primarily come from the recipients of the vast majority of Metro’s benefits and value appreciation: real estate.”

        Makes good sense to me. But developers are some of the biggest practioners of crony capitalism and recipients of corporate welfare. Imagine if they had to pay for the very thing (Metrorail) that has made their property hyper-valuable. And by the way, NoVA already pays a higher gas tax to fund transit. But the public sector demands more and more and more. Cut WMATA compensation first.

        • If the localities in northern Virginia would put together a competent land use plan revolving around high density mixed use transit oriented development I’d happy pay more taxes to fix Metro. However, I think we all know what will happen …

          We’ll get soaked for money to fix Metro and the developers will be allowed to continue to build anything anywhere they want and the snarl will just keep growing.

          The fundamental flaw in Virginia is the ease with which special interests can give money to politicians. Fix that flaw and everything else will start to fall into place.

          • TooManyTaxes

            Of course, they will build where they want. After a flurry of re-zonings and an initial appearance of construction cranes, developers have told Fairfax County that Tysons is too expensive. Many are looking to build office outside Tysons to save money.

            But for rail, no one could get high density around rail stations. But for rail, land values near rail stations would not have increased anywhere near as much. So rail provides major benefits to nearby landowners, both before building and after. So shouldn’t they pay the major portion of the costs for what drives their profits? More real estate taxes on land buildings near rail stations.

            DJR – don’t fall for the myth that rail will make a jot in reducing traffic hell in Fairfax County. County studies show that once development reaches 84 MSF built in Tysons, each new single occupant vehicle trip into Tysons must be cancelled by a new non-single occupant trip into Tysons. Elsewise, the entire road network fails. While one can make a good argument that building density by rail stations produces less traffic congestion than building the same density not near rail stations, building anything in Fairfax County, including right at rail stations, will increase traffic congestion. Fairfax County approved development in a manner that created traffic hell and it is very unlikely to ever make hell go away.

            Indeed, the Transportation Planning Board for Metro Washington’s study of transportation showed that, even if the three jurisdictions built every project on the books by 2040, at a cost of billions, traffic in 2040 will be worse than today with people having longer travel times than today. The only two ways to beat this is to move away or to die.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            I recall, back around 2011, Ray Lahood, then secretary of Transportation in the Obama Administration, aided by the Department of Justice (as I recall), and at the request of Virginia Governor McDonnell, investigated the operations of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (MWATA) in its planning and building of the Silver Line in Northern Virginia.

            I read that entire report. It was astounding. The gross incompetence of the MWATA. The greed for private gain of its public officials. Their arrogance and utter stupidly in making decisions and in performing their obligations to monitor and enforce the construction documents and expenditures there under. The utter disregard of these public officials for the vast waste of public funds going on in front of their collective noses, and the poor quality of the work being done on their watch, and their abject lack of meaningful accountability good business practices, ethics, and morality, public or otherwise. Despite all the fire, there were no indictments, penalties or punishments of consequence.

            So despite all the expense and gross malfeasance found, and what most likely included rampant criminal activity during that period, nothing of material consequence happened. Despite the report, everything sick in DC’s mass transit system went back to its version of business as usual, rampant incompetence and corruption.

            This state of affair that has been ongoing for decades is a indictment of our immoral society today on all levels of government – Federal, State, and Local – and throughtout much of our corporate culture today, especially in much government contracting work.

            Our leaders, public and private, increasingly lack ethics, honesty, and any sense of obligation to anyone but themselves. This is also an indictment of all of us – the generally public – that we put up with this abuse and collapse of our public and private institutions.

            It all starts, I believe, in our schools, whether they be in primary, secondary and higher education. As a result all of us, most particularly our elite, are a part of a grossly immoral and debased society and culture that is increasingly now rotten to the core.

      • I’m all for accountability – but if you do not have a predictable funding stream – you cannot plan operational much less capital expenditures and so you do it Ad Hoc .. spur of the moment .. when money suddenly appears.. and you don’t set money aside for contingencies..

        You guys basically want to starve them – then claim they have failed.. because you fundamentally oppose the CONCEPT of public transit.

        admit it!

        tell me the best run/operated transit system..in the US how about it… ???

        I bet you don’t have one right?

        • One of the few things that works to keep WMATA in line is the requirement for it to request funding from other government jurisdictions and agencies. If the funds came automatically, there would be no controls on the WMATA whatsoever. And this is not a crusade from the Right. Recall that the Governor Tim Kaine refuses to allow WMATA to build the Silver Line. His deal included a transfer of the construction from WMATA to MWAA. If Kaine thought there was any competence and ethics at WMATA, he likely would have allowed WMATA to build the Silver Line. WMATA is clearly the worst public agency in the Mid-Atlantic. The new GM has made some tough decisions to change that, but the jury is out.

          I would never support giving WMATA an automatic source of funding. That would give control of the agency to developers and employee unions.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            Thanks TMT for correcting the record.

            Before writing that comment, I googled the original Transportation Secretary’s report on the Silver Line debacle. But I discovered that it has disappeared. Scrubbed from the internet to hide the facts of what happened. Hence I used words “I recall’ in the comment.

            But, as you now have corrected the record for me, the report on the conduct of Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (Not MWATA) during the earlier phases of the Silver Line was, in my opinion, as bad as I had earlier stated above.

            One driving force behind the problems at the Airport Authority’s management of the Silver Line work was gross lack of standards, personnel, and oversight in place long before Mr. Potter took over the helm at Dulles Airport and more competent Board members were added to the Board. One new board member was a highly regarded Congressman who helped greatly to clear up matters as best he could as I recall.

            In any case, before that shakeup, the Airport Authority as to its oversight of the massive 2000-2011 construction at Dulles Airport, the Dulles Toll Road, and the Silver Line was just as corrupt and incompetent as the WMATA.

            Many $Billions were wasted during this period in doubling the airport’s capacity, a fool’s errand given that its traffic demand is roughly unchanged since year 2000.

            The early management of the Toll Road and Silver Line during this earlier period was also horrendous. Built on a foundation of falsehoods and incompetence plus funding and mismanagement that rewarded the few at a terrible expense to general public. Hence the public harm inflicted by public officials that continues unabated to this day, and indeed grows daily now.

            As best I can recall now, Gov. MacDonnell in 2012 made a strenuous effort to insure that VDOT standards and controls be put in place to regulate the follow on phases to the Silver Line Construction. Whether that happened I am not sure.

            Since the Airport Authority and/or Local Government officials in Northern Virginia are now scrubbing official public reports off the internet to hide them from their own citizens, the best I can do is to refer a transcript of a Congressional Hearing on this 2012 report found at:

            https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-112hhrg76706/html/CHRG-112hhrg76706.htm

  6. This whole string of posts is just too funny. Larry goes on and on, and on and on, and when he’s through going on and on, he goes on some more. Do you suppose he has an agenda?

    Acbar: “Yes, the allegation that there was racial bias and a “clubby culture of favoritism” was certainly there, and intentional, without a whole lot of data to support it.” Really? How much data do you need to support it? I didn’t see anyone challenge the basic fact in the first sentence of the article, namely 3000 drivers, only six of whom are white.

  7. re: ” racial bias and a “clubby culture of favoritism” is sure enough how you’d talk about WMATA financial issue, eh?

    like I said – the folks who oppose … on a conceptual basis – just get their ducks in a row of ” gee, how many different ways do I hate transit”.. and go from there.

    every singe major industrialized city – in the world – has public transit.. as well as police… roads… fire … EMS… yep .. and yep it costs money and yep there are just butt ugly aspects to govt-funded services and infrastructure.

    TMT says so himself.. we spend billions of dollars and the roads are STILL congested!! Proof positive that govt is a FAIL, right? Bring on the toll roads .. private sector nirvana will ensue…

  8. So how about a REAL objective article Bacon?

    how about listing the top 5 subway systems in the US , their budgets and their funding sources – and compare them to WMATA to demonstrate your and other critics premise that WMATA is not a good system – by showing it to actually be so in comparison with “well run” systems?

    let me quess.. there _are_ no “good” subway systems… they’re all “bad” just a matter of degree right?

    but again , just how bad? … is WMATA the baddest of the bad? and the only “good” subway is a closed-down one? can you make that case?

    • Larry, thanks for crediting me with super-human powers. I would love to follow your research ideas consuming hundreds of hours of time. Alas, I am a mere mortal. I require 8 hours a night of sleep, chores to do, errands to run, friends and family to keep up with, and obligations to paying sponsors to fulfill. I do not have the time.

      Perhaps you could research the answers to your questions yourself. I would gladly publish your findings on Bacon’s Rebellion.

  9. no excuses.. if you can take the time to post bogus blather.. over and over.. you can stop once and get stuff together to truly support your point!

    Your posts and others here.. tend to just list out all the reasons you hate WMATA …without ever really making a real case that it is really any different than other transit systems or for that matter even organizations like VDOT or the others that are propped up to be attacked… without any real suggestions on what to do instead or to point out GOOD models that you’d support for the criticized subject to emulate.

    There are few if any posts here to compare WMATA to what you feel are better transit systems and that’s because you’re opposed to the concept itself.. which is really odd because dense settlement patterns typically are not compatible with automobile-only mobility… so you have this basic inconsistency … most city-scale density usually has public transit and the bigger scale ones subways.

    but here’s a chart to help you out:

    so how about it… do we want me to find more data/charts to deal with the things you say you’re too busy to deal with .. in part because you spend so much time on the ones that essentially attack the concept (since I do not recall you ever really touting what you consider a “good” subway system in the US.

    or what would you suggest for most major cities in the US – instead of their subways for mobility ? Uber Van Pools?

    • Do we want me to find more data/charts to deal with the things you say you’re too busy to deal with?

      No, Larry, I don’t want to do your work for you. I could fill my entire life with meeting your ever-escalating demands for more data and more rarefied levels of proof. I’ll let you do your own research and live up to your own levels of proof.

      • well not looking for “rareified” levels of “proof” just a little more objectivity that uses real data and evidence and not so much anecdotal and “perceptions”.

        METRO has it’s problems – no question – and does need .. a “review” but the basic premise that is is “failing” is just bogus blather.. the same bogus bather we hear about the CONCEPT of subways in general from opponents and the irony of that opposition coming from those who tout the advantages of dense settlement patterns which simply would be a mess if it had no transit and relied on automobiles.

        What transit does – is the same thing that water/sewer do and that it – direct growth to areas where the city has decided it will invest in infrastructure to support denser development.

        You can’t really have the growth – then backfit these things.. so they go first … and just like police, or schools or fire/ems – they do not pay for themselves.. they require tax-funding… they’re considered basic/essential services – in virtually every other country and city on the planet… except here.. it’s a “cost” that does not pay for itself to SOME folks – many others also consider them essential infrastructure and services – not intended to “pay for themselves”.

        that’s a perspective that is ignored by the opposition.. and perhaps it’s out of step with the rest of the world…

      • The number one priority for METRO is a sustainable and predictable level of funding that allows it to plan and operate in a normal mode instead of crisis modes.

        That funding could come from a variety of sources – such as a portion of the NoVA supplemental sales tax that they got a couple years ago.

        It could also come from letting METRO lease or own areas around the stations which is how subways in Hong Kong and Singapore work.

        but when you refuse to provide a stable funding stream – you actually cause dysfunctional behaviors.. the same thing would happen to police or fire or schools or highways… or just about any essential infrastructure or services that required an assured level of funding to operate normally and provide reliable services.

  10. hmm.. how about this one:

  11. maybe this one? :

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