Metro union seeks funding flexibility
The union that represents most of Metro's front-line employees will propose that Metro have more flexibility in using capital funds to cover operating costs and pursue strategies to increase ridership and revenue from businesses near Metro stations Wednesday during a Senate meeting on Metro funding.
The Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies is scheduled to review the Obama administration's 2011 budget request for $150 million for the transit agency to help buy rail cars and to pay for safety improvements.
"As a stakeholder, Local 689 is fully aware that each safety, funding, and operations issue is interdependent," said Jackie Jeter, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represents about 8,000 Metro employees. "It is incumbent on all of us to rebuild the public's confidence in our good, but aging system."
Additional priorities cited by the union in a statement Wednesday are;
-- Improving relations between Metro and union workers "through open communication on safety and effective worker safety training";
-- Notifying the public about safety issues and possible solutions;
-- Reauthorization of the six-year federal transportation funding plan, including permanent funding solutions for transit agencies.
Last month, thousands of local and national transit workers rallied on Capitol Hill for greater and more flexible federal funding for the country's ailing public transportation systems. Agencies across the country are wrestling with declines in ridership and revenue.
Congress passed legislation in 2008 authorizing $1.5 billion in federal money for the transit agency's capital needs over 10 years, and the District, Maryland and Virginia have pledged matching funds.
Metro faces a $189 million deficit in its next operating budget and is considering a combination of service cuts and fare increases to close the gap. The transit agency also has identified $11 billion in capital needs. Virginia, Maryland, and the District are considering a renewal of a six-year, $5 billion capital agreement that would cover some of the expenses.
The meeting is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in Room SD-138 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Witnesses expected Wednesday include Metro board Chairman Peter Benjamin; Interim General Manager Richard Sarles; Jeter; Jack Corbett, director of MetroRiders.org; and Francis DeBernardo, chairman of the Riders' Advisory Council.
-- Staff reports
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