Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Is Metrorail Worth the Money?

The Washington Post's four-part series on Metro ends today with a lengthy detailing of some of Metro's missteps in money management, describing an agency "with inconsistent spending priorities, an uneven record of cost containment and a board of directors that sometimes makes political decisions that drive up costs."

How well Metro is managed is especially key now - the agency wants $1.5 billion in federal funds and permanent funding sources such as a regional tax, the paper says, noting that the request for additional money comes on top of $1.8 billion in "emergency" funding the agency recently received from state and local governments to maintain the system.


At 7:22 AM, Blogger Jim Bacon said...

The Washington Post deserves a lot of credit for running this series, examining a problem that the public perceived only dimly, if at all. Metro has a major credibility problem. As Virginia transportation planners look at the Dulles Metro extension, they must consider not only how much it will cost to construct that extension, but how much it will cost to operate the trains and maintain the track. If Metro's recent experience is any indication, the official cost estimates are probably under-shooting the real costs.

The VTrans2025 report identified $30.7 billion in unmet rail/public transportation needs by the year 2025, much of those needs being tied to the Dulles Metro rail extension. Funding that rail extension will require a massive funding commitment. Virginians need to make sure they're going to get their money's worth.

VDOT hasn't exactly covered itself in glory, but at least the highway department has been answerable to Virginia's governor. Mark Warner installed Philip Shucet, who managed to cut costs and improve VDOT's track record of delivering projects on time and on budget. But the Metro's management isn't accountable to Virginia's governor in the same way. Indeed, as the Post points out, it's not really accountable to anyone -- not even its own board.

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

If you ride Metro regularly, it is not hard to see the effect of these problems, even if the problms themselves are perceived dimly.


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