Metro and the Trust Issue

The centerpiece of the Kaine administration’s Northern Virginia transportation policy is financing construction of the Rail-to-Dulles extension of the Metro system. Not only will the heavy rail project cost an estimated $4 billion in capital costs, it will incur an ongoing subsidy of tens of millions of dollars yearly. It would make Gov. Kaine’s job a whole lot easier if Metro management could be trusted to run the trains efficiently and on time.

The Washington Post published a devastating series of articles about Metro inefficiencies last year. In an editorial today, credits Interim Manager Dan Tangherlini with making positive changes since taking the helm February, but chastises the bureaucratic organization for shameless spinning of its performance metrics. Stated the editorial:

Metro managers must think that nobody notices when they fudge statistics, cover-up problems and fail to communicate truthfully with the public. But people eventually find out they’re being scammed — and wonder what else the transit agency is hiding from them.

Metro is a critical piece of the Washington New Urban Region’s transportation infrastructure. But if Metro management wants that $4 billion extension to Dulles Airport — plus ongoing subsidies from now until… forever — it had better work harder to maintain its credibility.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


3 responses to “Metro and the Trust Issue”

  1. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    That is right, Jim. Once we add on to metro, it suffers the same problem that you noted with VDOT. Added miles are a commitment to continued maintenance, and in this case, continued operating subsidies.

    Once we build it we are going to be stuck with it, whether it turns out to economically and socially agood thing or not. At least with cars, when someone decides they can no longer rationalize its use, they can take it off the road and divert the funds elsewhere.

    We built a radial system of roads which, as it turned out could not meet the demand. Then we repeated that folly by building a radial copy of the roads using metro. Standing room only, delayed trains, and failure to alleviate traffic congestion suggests this isn’t the answer either.

    Meanwhile, we have more and more edge cities, which are starting to merge into a new and larger Urban core or maybe a collection of corelets, and no plan to meet the new demand that has developed. Every day this continues to occur, more and more of Metro turns out to be in the wrong places.

    When BRAC moves Crystal City to Fort Belvoir, it will be autos that make the transition first, because they can meet the shifting demand. Metro will still be stopping in Crystal City for years while Crystal City is being torn down and re-built.

    At least the construction workers eill be able to ride Metro to get to work. Pity the office Joes that get to ride home with them.

  2. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    If I hadn’t been a regular reader of the Post for many years I’d be puzzled as to how the Post can, on hand, write several compelling stories as to why WMATA is poorly managed and wastes money; yet, at the very same time, write multiple editorials insisting that Virginia taxpayers fork over more of their money to give WMATA a permanent funding source. That position is senseless. WMATA needs reforms before it gets permanent funding is given an even larger train system to run.

    Given his breath-taking reversal of position on linking land use to transportation (i.e., local governments must be given the power to delay development when the existing roads are inadequate) and his tight relationship with the West Group, I submit that Governor Kaine also has a big issue with trust oer his support for extending Metrorail. West Group, for example, provided the Kaine Campaign with office space for months. Now we have the Governor supporting spending billions to extend Metrorail through Tysons Corner, where West Group is a major landowner and has zoning amendments pending contingent upon the extension of Metrorail, despite the Commonwealth’s own evidence that spending billions won’t make a measurable difference in traffic congestion improvement. I thought transportation money was scarce. How can the Governor support spending massive sums on something that does not improve traffic congestion in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties?

    The Governor is, obviously, a bright man and an experienced public official. Given the tight transportation budgets in Virginia and the strong opposition to more development expressed by so many of Kaine’s voters, why is supporting the extension of Metrorail at great cost? This is not logical. Is there more than meets the eye?

    Moreover, why has the press not addressed this issue?

  3. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    Tysons Task Force To Be Aided by Leading Urban Planner – Fairfax County will pay $1.2 million for a consultant to help a task force studying the future of Tysons Corner.

    The consultant will provide expertise in planning and modeling that county planners don’t have, according to a request approved by the county Board of Supervisors.

    From Policy Soup

    Well, at least they recognize they don’t know how to plan.

    Here is your big chance, Ed.

Leave a Reply