Riddle me this … in the DC suburbs what political entity could possibly be more unpopular than President Donald Trump? I have no empirical evidence to support what I am about to say other than just as a guy who’s lived here most of my life. The answer is simple: Metro. The out of control costs, the growth and sprawl it causes and the failure of the system has infuriated nearly every single person I know in this area. Just check the Facebook feed of anyone you know who relies on Metro for a living. Watch the local news and you will hear about another delay or problem. It seems like ever since the Fort Toten crash a few years ago nothing has been done to fix any of the problems surrounding the crumbling and out of date system.
Here is a bit of unsolicited advice to Ed Gillespie: every time Ralph Northam talks about Donald Trump, respond by talking about real Metro reform. Shoot, if it were up to me I’d just federalize the system under the Department of Transportation and be done with it. But when Northam and the Democrats make Ed defend Trump, fire back by asking them to defend a system that right now is wasting about $214 million in funding annually from Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax County, Arlington County and Fairfax City. Metro has no dedicated funding right now because it sprawls over multiple jurisdictions.
Here are some facts on the state of the system right now:
- $125 million revenue shortfall
- Combined rail and bus ridership is down nine percent over the same time period one year ago, a drop of 16 million trips; rail ridership is down 12 percent
- Projections now calling for $921 million in net subsidies from Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. compared with the $845 million agreed to under the budget approved last March.
- Estimates the direct revenue loss from 24/7 track work, which started last spring, at around $50 million
- $1 billion unfunded pension liability as well as $1.8 billion in other retiree benefits
Metro literally has a body count on it because of its inefficiencies and dangerous lack of maintenance. If I’m Gillespie or his campaign team I’d ditch the General Republican Orthodoxy about good government and tax cuts, at least in Northern Virginia, and talk almost exclusively about what a colossal disaster Metro is and that Virginia needs to lead the way in true reform. Let Ralph lead the #Resistance to Trump, Ed needs to lead the #Resistance to a failing Metro system that is sucking the region dry. Shoot, Jack Evans, the DC councilman who is the current Metro Board Chairman, wants a regional sales tax. That’s been tried here before back when Tim Kaine was governor.
This is a political issue right now just made for the Republican Party and nobody seems willing to jump on it. It fits our ideology and helps us accentuate what we do best as conservatives. It is one that could help cut through the anti-GOP feeling out there in the DC suburbs and actively address a real issue that is causing real pain in the region. It is an issue that is less political and more a standard of living issue that could help the party get past some of the Trump blowback that is out there. If Ed Gillespie can get 43-45% in Northern Virginia and crank out the downstate vote that should be enough. Ralph Northam does not have a Northern Virginia base at all and is not exactly a guy who will set the world on fire. Like in the primary, he’s just going to hold on for dear life until the end. Let’s go on offense!