A safe, affordable and high-quality Metro system
By Jim Graham
In his Jan. 17 Local Opinions commentary, “Help Metrorail’s next chief succeed,” former Virginia transportation secretary Pierce R. Homer argued that bus service should be separated from Metro so the system can focus exclusively on rail.
That may seem like a good idea to someone who works in Richmond, but Metrobus service is extremely important to this region. What works for us is an integrated, cost-effective public transportation network, not a commuter rail system or a fragmented set of services. Metro holds this region together. Let’s keep it that way.
Mr. Homer and I do agree on this: Metro needs “long-term, dedicated sources of funding.” That’s why I was disturbed by a second Jan. 17 commentary, “John Catoe’s worst decision,” in which Metroriders.org’s Jack Corbett and Kevin Moore said Metro board members “have not been willing to fight their appointed jurisdictions to get more capital investment for the system in good years.”
They are mistaken. In recent years, D.C. contributions to Metro have grown much faster than inflation. And this difficult fiscal year the District found an additional $50 million. We now contribute more than $330 million a year.
The Metro board faces tough choices in the coming months. Metro is not getting forecasted revenue because high unemployment has reduced the number of riders. The board is in a position to solve Metro’s budget gap without cutting service or increasing fares — thanks in part to our successful work to get increases in funding from the District, Maryland and Virginia. But Metro forecasts a much bigger budget gap next year. Metro riders deserve a commitment to safe, affordable, high-quality service.
The writer is a member of the D.C. Council (D-Ward.1) and chairman of the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority board of directors.
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