Looking Ahead to the Next METRO Expansion

The House of Delegates leadership has announced a legislative package that would dedicate $50 million a year in state funds over 10 years in order to qualify for matching federal funds to upgrade METRO service to Northern Virginia.

According to a press release from the Speaker of the House, the package would dedicate the first $20 million annually of the existing tax on automobile insurance premiums to Metro, and increase the portion of recordation tax receipts directed to localities by an additional $60 million, which would mean an additional $30 million for Northern Virginia.

The funding, says the press release “will support the Metro’s 10-Year Capital Improvement Program, developed to adequately recapitalize the system and keep its assets in a state of good repair.” Legislators provided only the barest of details of what METRO improvements they have in mind.

“These funds will help preserve and expand the commuting options for the citizens of eastern Prince William,” said [Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick, R-Woodbridge]. “Hopefully, as Metro does more to eliminate waste and make their operations more efficient, this investment, combined with the federal match, will help bring Metro into the 21st Century and begin the process of expanding the system to Woodbridge and points south.”

The METRO website says that its $12.2 billion, 10-year capital improvement plan would replace depreciated assets, increase the length of trains from four/six cars to eight, and add 114 miles of rail in multiple projects.

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8 responses to “Looking Ahead to the Next METRO Expansion”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    The proposed federal match is not set in stone, although Cong. Davis ought to be able to deliver it. This is the time when you should chime in that any such match should be tied to some performance measures, which would be a good idea. Take the $50 million a year for this one sacred transportation cow serving one corner of the commonwealth, do the same for other modes in that and other regions, and I bet the math produces a program of about …. $1 billion a year.

    But the political threat to the House Republicans is in the I-95, Beltway corridor. Targeting is a concept that comes to mind.

  2. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    4:02 My recollection is that Davis’ bill includes the establishment of an inspector general’s office. WMATA sorely needs this type of oversight. Of course, the creation of an IG does not, in and of itself, fix all of WMATA’s inefficiencies, but it is a start.

    What else would help is the MSM that would be willing to deviate from its cherished belief that the only solutions to any problems are more government spending and higher taxes.

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Phil Rodokanakis, president of the Virginia chapter of the Club for Growth (and a Bacon’s Rebellion contributor) responded to the House leadership as follows:

    Thank you all for holding the line against taxes. However, this plan deserves:

    1) An “A+” for creative financing (without burdening the taxpayers)

    2) An “F-” for accountability

    It does nothing to root out Metro’s habitual and historic inefficiencies or their gross mismanagement practices. It actually rewards Metro’s management for their continued waste and abuse of taxpayer-funded resources by giving them even more money to waste.

    And please don’t tell me that the watered down provisions contained in Rep. Tom Davis’ pork-laden bill that call for the establishment of an IG will have any impact on controlling Metro’s mismanagement and inefficiencies. The only way to “save” Metro is to privatize it. On the contrary, your bill assures that Metro will continue being addicted to government subsidies. You’re simply throwing good money after bad!

    Oh well, who cares about accounting for taxpayer dollars? It’s there to be spent after all–just like you all didn’t bat an eye when you voted for the state budget this year, which calls for the largest expansion of government in our life time!

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Why would a privatized Metro, a giant entity that would enjoy a virtual monopoly, be more efficient? Ask the folks in Maryland how the unregulated monopoly electric power industry is working out (coming to our state in 2011). Perhaps if Metro were broken into component parts, or someincentives were worked in.

  5. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “Why would a privatized Metro, a giant entity that would enjoy a virtual monopoly, be more efficient?”

    ditto for a privatized VDOT?

    fair question methinks.

    Are there viable examples/business models of privatized Metro-type transit?

    What would happen if .. a private entity were offered incentives for every dollar saved?

    I know.. the next issue would be would they cut services – and the answer to that is to establish performance standards that would directly affect the agreement – even add penalties.

    This is done with schools and prisons as well as many other traditional government services – .. check out the reservation systems for state parks these days…

    I think the point is that we all know that without changes METRO will operate not too differently than VDOT. At the very least – performance standards need to be part of the equation – as well as replacement of the management if performance levels are not maintained.

    Too bad Mr. Howell and the folks on his team.. did not see fit to take the opportunity to establish accountability that went along with the funding.. I agree.

  6. chris saxman Avatar
    chris saxman

    HB5070 might address some of the accountability concerns.

  7. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “might” is the operative word .. this looks like (I hope) a placeholder….

    HB 5070 Transportation Accountability, Joint Commission on; created.

    the entire text:

    “Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability. Creates the Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability to carry out close legislative oversight of state agencies with transportation responsibilities.”

    JLARC has produce a report on transportation than includes Transit. I’d not be suprised that at the least Bill Howell and other legislators are well aware of it and it’s recommendations.

    It can be found at (page 100 and on):


    In general.. the legislators (probably via their Staff) DO seem to be basing their legislation.. at least in part on the issues identified by JLARC .. and the Virgnia Auditor of Public Accounts.

    I’m encouraged… but my expectations are remaining low… for good reasons.


  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Here’s another JLARC recommendation:

    * Establish an intermodal office with professional staff needs to be established to advise the Secretary of Transportation and CTB regarding intermodal issues

    The Staff should provide:
    * Intermodal analysis regarding major transportation corridors
    * Coordination between agencies regarding multimodal projects

    ye gods… I’m sure that is blasphemy to VDOT… probably the reason there no legislation.. 🙂

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