The Coming WMATA Catastrophe

If Vincent Gray wants to get my vote in his bid to unseat DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, here’s an example of an important issue the mayor is totally wrong about:

Mayor Fenty’s proposed FY2011 budget, released yesterday, made no change to the contribution levels for transit, setting the stage for massive service cuts on top of large fare increases.

Even the General Manager’s proposed budget, with cuts including no Yellow Line to Fort Totten, no 8-car trains, 30-minute evening headways and far fewer buses, plus fare hikes of 15–20%, require a $40 million increased contribution. DC’s share is about $16 million.Through the petition, residents have been asking for a larger contribution of $74 million (about $30M from DC) to also remove these service cuts.

I don’t know anyone who’s thrilled with the current level of service from Metro. And if area governments don’t pony up some extra cash, there’s going to be no way to avoid draconian service cuts that will have a terrible impact on the region. The network of Metro lines and stations is at the heart of the prosperity of this region, not just in DC but in Arlington County and around Bethesda and Silver Spring in Maryland. Reasonably frequent bus service is critical to the viability of many of the city’s existing neighborhoods and cuts in service levels will be especially problematic for the poor.