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Transit coalition asks Metro to avoid service cuts

See other postings in this series on Metro's options:
-- Jim Graham: Tap capital budget.
-- Metro rider proposes targeted fare increase.
-- Smart Growthers back fare hike, borrowing.

In advance of Wednesday evening's Metro board hearing, several groups concerned about the Washington region's transit system have issued statements.

This will be the position of the Transit First! Coalition, a group of transit advocates and environmentalists.

We urge WMATA to address the FY10 operating budget deficit with the following actions:
-- No cuts in service - we oppose Option 1 of the hearing notice. We ask WMATA to hold to the principle of preserving (1) peak-period capacity and (2) off-peak frequency as the agency makes adjustments to cover the deficit.
-- Balance the remaining shortfall for FY10's operating budget by a combination of borrowing capital dollars and fare increases -- Options 2, 3 or 4. Borrowing from capital funds should only be done with the commitment that the funds are fully repaid over the next few years either in cash or through savings from bus priority treatments.
-- Bus Priority: Implement cost savings by securing the commitment of state and local governments to more efficient movement of buses. These savings can be used to offset member contributions to the operating budget. . . .
-- Increase state, local and federal contributions: Given the benefit of transit to all the public -- transit riders, drivers and others -- increases in jurisdictional contributions to Metrorail and Metrobus should also be pursued. Metro board members should call on state and local governments to increase contributions to meet this and next year's budget operating deficits.
-- Establish a culture of heightened attention to customer service, safety, openness, and accountability.

Dr. G: The hearing starts at 5:30 p.m. at Metro headquarters, 600 Fifth St. NW in the District. I agree that Metro should avoid any major service cuts in this round. Some of them, such as eliminating eight-car trains, shouldn't even be on the table. Some cuts, such as closing some station entrances late at night or on weekends, seem reasonable.

Taking money from the capital budget, the one that pays for long-term maintenance and equipment purchases, seems risky. With Metro facing a $175 million shortfall in the fiscal year starting July 1, there's no guarantee the money will be repaid.

By Robert Thomson  |  January 27, 2010; 8:45 AM ET
Categories:  Metro  | Tags: Dr. Gridlock, Metro budget  
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