Want Amazon? Fix Metro, says Wiedefeld.

If Virginians want Amazon to locate HQ2, its second headquarters, in the Washington area, they need to help fix Metro, the region’s ailing commuter rail service. That was part of the message delivered by Metro General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld yesterday to the House Appropriation Committee’s Transportation subcommittee.

The Metro needs at least $15.5 billion in capital spending over the next decade to address a massive maintenance backlog, address safety issues and keep commuter trains running on time. Former Governor Terry McAuliffe included $150 million a year for Metro in the state budget on the condition that Maryland and Washington, D.C. contribute their share.

A functional Metro is crucial to winning Amazon, which has indicated it will invest $5 billion in a new headquarters complex, Wiedefeld told legislators, as reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“They want transit, and they want it to work well,” said Wiedefeld, who told the delegates that he has cut hundreds of positions, revised ethics and nepotism policies, and imposed controls on workers’ compensation and employee absenteeism in his efforts to right what has been seen as a woefully mismanaged transit system. WMATA also now has its first-ever preventive maintenance program, he said.

Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and suburban Maryland are among the 20 locations that made Amazon’s top 20 list of prospects for its second headquarters complex. Amazon has declared that mass transit is a key factor in its site-selection process.

Bacon’s bottom line: It would be helpful to know what inducements Virginia has offered the technology giant to choose a location near Washington Dulles International Airport, but it is standard practice not to reveal such details. Likewise, it would be easier to justify shelling out extra billions for the Metro if we knew the odds of landing Amazon, but Amazon is not about to tip its hand. As usual, legislators and the public are in the dark, trying to make a multibillion-dollar decision on the basis of incomplete information.

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7 responses to “Want Amazon? Fix Metro, says Wiedefeld.”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    All things considered… some might think having one centrally-located employer of thousands … would be the perfect situation for BRT … and a LOT cheaper than trying to “fix’ a region-wide transit system.

    Heckfire – a locality like NoVa could offer a exclusive BRT system just for Amazon as an “inducement”.. Just imagine .. upscale buses.. no tolls.. no fare box.. free WiFi… phone chargers… !!! Forget METRO!!!

  2. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Now retired Congressman Frank Wolf proposed building BRT on dedicated RoW done the middle of the Dulles Access and Toll Roads years ago. It would have been less expensive, clearly qualified for federal funding based on a cost-benefit analysis and would have delivered mass transit much quicker. BRT would have been a better fit to Tysons’ and the DTR corridor’s densities.

    But the real estate interests quickly figured out BRT would not support the mega-densities they desired. Realizing the lack of sophistication on the part of Fairfax County voters, many of whom supported rail cuz everybody else would take it and they would have easy commutes, the knee-jerk positive response of the media to anything that costs lots of money and the ability to “win-over” elected officials with campaign contributions, the landowners hired lobbyists and manipulated the media to persuade County residents that BRT was bad and heavy rail was good.

    And, of course, over time as Tysons and the region grew, BRT could have been replaced with rail. Yes, Larry BRT makes sense, but it won’t happen. But I also don’t think WMATA is fixable as no one is willing to take the steps to control costs and provide better service. Keep in mind WMATA pensions are calculated based on overtime payments. Tell me what private company does that.

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      TMT –

      I agree with everything you’ve just said, TNT. You don’t give millions to incompetent organizations that will waste the millions that you give them. History has proven time and again that WMATA is an unfixable wastrel. It needs to be dissolved, its assets transferred to an another different entity.

      You are also right on your history. In 1985 I was heavily involved in the acquisition of a major site in Tyson’s Corner fronting the Dulles Toll road, and Rt. 123. The rationale in 1985 behind the acquisition was the construction of the BRT in the middle of the Dulles Access and Tolls Roads. Retired Congressman Frank Wolf is solely missed. He served honorably.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    well.. geeze… is this history wrong?

    ” U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th) said he expects Metrorail will be extended through Tysons Corner in the near future, but he will let local and state authorities decide on whether to allow proposed high-density developments or build a tunnel instead of an elevated line.

    The Metrorail project is much-needed and, after decades of delay, is on the verge of becoming reality, he said.

    Wolf addressed the McLean Citizens Association’s Budget and Taxation Committee on Tuesday, May 16, [2006] at the McLean Community Center.

    Although an ardent supporter of bus-rapid transit in the 1990s, Wolf said he got behind the $4 billion, 23.1-mile Metrorail project after his constituents and numerous public agencies strongly endorsed it.

    Wolf also endorsed Virginia Gov. Kaine’s decision to allow the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority run the Dulles Toll Road in exchange for revenues, management and expertise to extend Metrorail past Washington Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County.”


    I gotta watch you guys recounting of “history” like a Hawk!!!!!

  4. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    Larry, the world is not black and white, its far more complicated that you seem to realize. Making honest mistakes and getting involved in big highly speculative and complicated problems for the right reasons, but where right and wrong and/or maybe is impossible to discern with certainty, does not make a man dishonorable, it make him courageous and honorable. Wolf, in my experience, of which you have absolutely none, was forever working behind the scene trying to make the best of difficult situations. This is called trying to fix things.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Wolf was a principled person who did work behind the scenes and DID support METRO.. according to others not me.. It was my recollection that he did but I did go look to see if my recollection was correct or not.. and then posted the facts.

      Some of our problems today is our tendency to remember what we want to remember.. and not the full facts. We are all somewhat guilty of this , including myself.. so the right thing to do is to get the history right.

      Mr. Wolf supported METRO and the concept of subway transit – unlike some who say they do but when it comes to funding it.. not so much.

      And the thing about starving them until they fix it.. can you imagine taking that same approach with other entities like VDOT or Public Schools, etc?

      Mr. Wolf was not with the “starve it until they fix it” crowd.
      that’s another point in his favor…

      1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        You are arguing with yourself, Larry.

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