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All Those Metro "Mishaps" are Expensive

In an editorial over the weekend, the Washington Post asked, "Does Metro need a full overhaul?" The editorial board's opening paragraphs pretty much summarize Metro's recent problems:

"METRO’S BOARD, which oversees all bus and rail operations, is cracking the whip on a transit system whose sundry mishaps, breakdowns and fatal accidents imperil not only passengers but also the vitality and prospects of the Washington area itself. Convinced that the status quo is no longer viable, the board has determined that nothing short of a corporate, cultural and managerial overhaul will suffice.

"Trying something new is a reasonable reaction given Metro’s sorry trajectory. The trouble is that the board — whose frustration boiled over Thursday in an extraordinarily public verbal pummeling of the agency’s safety chief, James Dougherty, who was promptly ousted — has given no indication that it has a clear idea what the new “something” should be.

"Nor does the board seem to expect that a new general manager, who may be hired in the coming months, more than a year after the last one resigned, will be capable of setting the agency on a new course."

What is the cost of these "sundry mishaps, breakdowns and fatal accidents." In addition to what Metro riders put in the farebox, and what Metro gets from the state and federal governments, Metro receives significant subsidies from local governments in Virginia and Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

Arlington County provided Metro with $11.8 million in subsidies in FY 2005. By FY 2014, the subsidies to Metro increased to $28.2 million, an increase of 138.9%, or 10.3% annually over the 10 years from FY 2005 to FY 2014.

By comparison, total general government expenditures during this 10-year period increased 4.6% annually, going from $793.4 million to $1.186 billion over the 10-year period. The foregoing numbers are from the statistical section (Table D-1) of Arlington County's FY 2014 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

Sure makes you wonder about the influence the Arlington County Board member, who is a member of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) Board, has had on Metro operations. Growls readers living in Arlington County are urged to communicate with the Arlington County Board to learn just what influence membership on the Metro Board has over the efficient and economical operation of the WMATA system. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130

And tell them ACTA sent you.


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