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Rockville Activist Petitions for More Metro Funding at the Capitol

Rocky Twyman, the founder of a new group he calls No More Metro Deaths Crusade, collected nearly 40 signatures Tuesday during three hours circling the Capitol for a petition that requests more funding for Metro from the federal government.

The 60-year-old Rockville activist has embraced a variety of causes in recent years, from praying for lower gas prices to registering bone marrow donors. On Monday afternoon, he predicted at least 10 others would join him on the west side of the Capitol. For two hours on Tuesday, though, he walked around by himself. Eventually, two of his friends showed up.

"This is an important crusade because I really fear that something more is gonna happen if nothing is done," he said.

As far as he is concerned, the $150 million in funding for Metro that the House approved last week, which still needs to be approved in the Senate and matched by the local jurisdictions that support the agency, is insufficient. He calls it "a drop in the bucket." He wants $1 billion or more.

Lee Pattillo, a 25-year-old mechanical engineer visiting from Dothan, Ala., declined Twyman's request to sign on. "Why should tax dollars from Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee support you?" he asked. "If Congress pays for it, everyone pays for it."

"Even though it's local, it's of national importance," Twyman said, trying to convince tourists from around the country why they should care about WMATA's capital needs.

It took Twyman nearly half an hour to get his first signature. Terry Olp, 48, of Bremerton, Wash., agreed to put his name down after hearing Twyman's pitch. His wife even photographed him as he signed.

"We don't have public transportation very well organized in the Seattle area," he said.

The next signatory was a woman from Paris visiting with her two children. "I'm French," she said. "We can sign even if we don't live here?"

"Of course!" Twyman said, eagerly handing her the black binder with sheaves of paper.

Near the Southeast entrance to the Capitol, Twyman tried to approach a group of farmers wearing cowboy hats as they paced quickly toward the building.

"You all ride Metro?" he asked.

"Nope," one man said, and kept walking.

By James Hohmann  |  July 28, 2009; 3:48 PM ET
 | Tags: Metro, Rocky Twyman  
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