New Metro Chairman Discusses Priorities
Jim Graham, the D.C. Council member who has become the new chairman of the Metro board for this year, wonders if he would have picked 2009 to serve in that role, with all the difficult prospects ahead for Metro's finances and service.
Among the challenges ahead, he said this morning, will be addressing persistent rail and bus overcrowding problems. He said he also wants to expand the role of the Riders' Advisory Council, the citizens group that consults with the board on service issues.
"I intend to support a stronger role for the RAC in this coming year," Graham said. He wants committee chairs to be able to invite the council to participate in discussion of specific issues.
Graham spent a lot of his time talking about his concerns for the Metrobus system. He pledged to focus on restoring the troubled Next Bus technology. The system, which is supposed to give riders a clear idea of when the next Metrobus is supposed to arrive at atheir stop, is a way of improving service without spending a lot of money, he said.
Next Bus was suspended in 2007 because it wasn't reliable. The fix is supposed to be completed this year.
Graham also pledges to make sure the expansion of the SmarTrip electronic fare card program is carried out. And he wants to allow buses a priority in getting through traffic signals at intersections.
He'll also be chairman as the federal stimulus program progresses, and Metro receives the $230 million in its spending list.
February 26, 2009; 11:40 AM ET
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