Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans urged the federal government this week to seize control of the capital region’s failing transportation system, penning another chapter in the never-ending saga, “Just How Bad Does Metro Suck?”
Federal control is total surrender and an admission of defeat. Mr. Evans is conceding that Metro needs a massive bailout and a complete restructuring that only a federal takeover with “extraordinary powers” (and deep pockets) can accomplish. Metro is in a death spiral, and our local leaders are in dangerous denial.
Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on Transportation and Public Assets bluntly stated federal funding would not be forthcoming. “Absolutely not,” he said, “It’s a very prosperous region. The local governments can certainly help.”
“…local governments can certainly help.” Is that another Metro railcar burning, or do I smell a tax increase?
Since 2010, Metro ridership has declined 12% (100,000 trips per day). If proposed fare increases are implemented, Metro projects an additional drop of 10,000,000 trips per year. Metro has an annual operating deficit of $290M (tax increase). Their unfunded pension liability is $2.8B (big tax increase). Projected additional needed capital funding is $12B-$18B (really big tax increase).
In July ’12 the Loudoun Board of Supervisors foolishly voted to become a funding partner to Metro. Loudoun couldn’t have picked a worse time to partner with this failing system that suffers from unreliable service, eye-popping debt, plummeting ridership, and whose passengers are killed by derailments, train fires, and common thugs. The Loudoun County Mensa Club agreed to fund 4.8% of a system that is roughly $20 BILLION in the hole.
Officials are whistling past the railyard graveyard. Beholden to developer promises of grandeur, they continue to focus on the sizzle of shiny new Metro stations while ignoring the probable actual costs, the possibility that Metro tax districts will underperform, and the potentially economically devastating proposal to cut service to suburbs leaving new Loudoun stations with few or no trains.
All NOVA readers be warned. Expect attempts to raise our already high property taxes to temporarily appease the insatiable appetite of the Metro beast even as it writhes in its throes of death. DC mayor Muriel Bowser (D-DC) already proposed a regional 1% sales “metro tax” and, additionally, DC is floating a proposal for jurisdictions to double their contributions. These taxes are in addition to Virginia’s record high “transportation tax” enacted just a few years ago.
Reject all Metro taxes.