Not a Good Sign: Deadline Missed for Metro Safety Panel

Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., will miss a February deadline for setting up an independent Metro safety oversight group. A realistic time frame for the panel’s launch is another six months, according to Virginia’s Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne.

As a result, the Federal Transit Administration has withheld $15.8 million from the two states and the district, reports the Washington Post. The commission launch has been held up by the search for an executive director and six commissioners. Virginia and Maryland have announced their commissioner picks, but D.C. Council has not.

“It’s taken a lot longer than we anticipated with our partners getting together their personnel, but it is what it is,” Layne said. “It’s similar to [Metro]. It’s dealing with different regional issues and the politics of doing that.”

Bacon’s bottom line: If Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. can’t work effectively on an issue as innocuous as Metro rail safety — a goal everyone shares — how will they ever come to agreement over how to fund and operate the Metro itself? There is no consensus on how much to charge passengers. There is no consensus on how to revamp the Metro’s union contract. While there is agreement that the ailing commuter rail system needs billions of dollars to pay for maintenance backlogs, there is no consensus on who should pay. What a mess.

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9 responses to “Not a Good Sign: Deadline Missed for Metro Safety Panel

  1. I keep saying you need to compare METRO without other Transit!

    so here you go – if you hate METRO … you’re NOT going to LOVE NYC Transit: So here’s is your NEW YEAR Gift: !!!!

    The Most Expensive Mile of Subway Track on Earth

    How excessive staffing, little competition, generous contracts and
    archaic rules dramatically inflate capital costs for transit in New York.

    ” The budget showed that 900 workers were being paid to dig caverns for the platforms as part of a 3.5-mile tunnel connecting the historic station to the Long Island Rail Road. But the accountant could only identify about 700 jobs that needed to be done, according to three project supervisors. Officials could not find any reason for the other 200 people to be there.

    “Nobody knew what those people were doing, if they were doing anything,” said Michael Horodniceanu, who was then the head of construction at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs transit in New York. The workers were laid off, Mr. Horodniceanu said, but no one figured out how long they had been employed. “All we knew is they were each being paid about $1,000 every day.”

  2. I keep saying you need to compare METRO without other Transit!

    so here you go – if you hate METRO … you’re NOT going to LOVE NYC Transit: So here’s is your NEW YEAR Gift: !!!!

    How excessive staffing, little competition, generous contracts and
    archaic rules dramatically inflate capital costs for transit in New York.

    ” The budget showed that 900 workers were being paid to dig caverns for the platforms as part of a 3.5-mile tunnel connecting the historic station to the Long Island Rail Road. But the accountant could only identify about 700 jobs that needed to be done, according to three project supervisors. Officials could not find any reason for the other 200 people to be there.

    “Nobody knew what those people were doing, if they were doing anything,” said Michael Horodniceanu, who was then the head of construction at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs transit in New York. The workers were laid off, Mr. Horodniceanu said, but no one figured out how long they had been employed. “All we knew is they were each being paid about $1,000 every day.”

  3. More argument along the lines of, “And so’s your momma.”

  4. Around 2011, I took the better part of a morning to read the US Department of Transportation’s Inspector General’s report on the rampant corruption within the public authority that oversaw the design and construction of Metro’s light rail out to Dulles Airport known as the Silver Line.

    As a recall the FBI acted as the investigative arm of the Inspector General’s absolutely shocking report. The governance of the Metro has been miserable for many, many years.

    For example, I convinced myself that it was the source of the pervasive corruption behind the Million Dollar Bus Stop, in Arlington County, and the plan to build 22 more of them. The plan seemed to me to be a money laundering, making cooked up claims that honest people would consider false to capture loose Federal Funds.

    I have not been following these Metro matters closely since then but imagine this agency at best is still very far away from any semblance of competence. So Virginia would be foolish to fund the work of such as miserably run operation. And now will do something akin to what I recall it did on the Silver Line Mess. Could be wrong, but best I recall, VOT stepped in and took over completion of the Silver Line job. Considering the mess they inherited, at least on completion there was then no need to have the FBI review the books.

    The failure of such important public institutions, whether they be in Northern Virginia, or in Charlottesville, Virginia, or anywhere else, should be wake up calls for all of us.

  5. I’ve said it before and will again… There’s a significant double standard when it comes to METRO versus roads.

    All the money put into transit is said to be the rife with corruption, waste and mismanagement…

    But all the money put into NoVa highways that has not relieved congestion is said to be good money spent – just a lot more is needed.

    The belief that gas taxes pay for roads and METRO has to be “subsidized” is misguided as Virginia derives half its’ state funding for road from sales taxes and NoVA is even more with it’s supplementary regional sales taxes for “transportation” – and we say that Va/Md/DC cannot agree on how to fund METRO – but they sure as heck can agree to increase the sales tax for roads..

    Finally – critics can readily put the numbers to METRO for costs… but I bet you that few, if any people, including those who post here in BR could tell you how much money is spent on roads in NoVa.

    How much? Anyone know ? Have an educated guess? How about WAG? (wild _ssed guess)?

    so we approach transit and roads in totally different mindsets…

    “congestion” in NoVa is NOT the fault of corruption and mismanagement and waste .. it’s because we do not spend enough money, right?
    How much are we spending? How much more do we need to “fix” the problem?

    • There’s a significant double standard when it comes to METRO versus roads.

      Not really. It’s been a while since I’ve looked closely at the transportation funding numbers, but I think it’s fair to say that the gas tax (retail and wholesale) and other auto-related revenue streams (car sales, etc.) are roughly sufficient to pay for highway maintenance and operations. Metro-generated revenues (fares, advertising, miscellaneous sources) don’t come close to pay for Metro’s operations and maintenance.

      What is true is that auto-related taxes fall way short of funding new road, bridge, and highway construction. Of course, Metro revenues don’t pay for new construction either — just look at the funding for the Silver Line.

      I’ve always maintained that roads and highway maintenance, operations and construction should be funded through user fees — primarily the gas tax, to be replaced eventually by a vehicle-miles-driven tax. The way to fund mass transit is through user fees and value-capture mechanisms that tap the increase in property value created by the presence of the mass transit service. Any other way of doing it leads to the same logic you just displayed — well, we subsidize roads, so we might as well subsidize transit.

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