Speak Out: Metro’s $26 Billion Improvement Plan

The primary obstacle for the transportation system appears to be funding.

Less than a year after the Loudoun Board of Supervisors signed on to a Metrorail project that would bring the new Silver Line to two stations in Ashburn, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has a proposed a series of list if improvements to help the system keep up with demand estimated to cost $26 billion.

The Washington Post has a story here.

The main snag in the way of the plan, which WMATA board members praised, appears to be where to obtain funding for the project.

In Loudoun, opponents of the county’s participation in the Silver Line project often pointed to the unknown cost of capital needs for Metro, and Loudoun’s responsibility for those costs. During the county’s debate about whether to participate, WMATA representatives said they perpetually have a plan that calls for far more investment than is possible by the participating municipalities.

What do you think about WMATA’s proposed capital plans?

Bob Bruhns January 25, 2013 at 04:05 PM
After watching 26% hyperinflation in certain Phase 2 estimates estimates in less than a year, after watching our so-called 'leaders' and news media completely ignore that, after identifying double, and even more than double prices in the few figures that I as a mere, unimportant taxpayer and citizen was allowed to see, after being informed by a Fairfax County official that WMATA construction pricing is about the same (meaning extremely bloated), after seeing a $53 million blunder by FTA covered up, after watching a US DOT audit on Dulles Rail phase 2 as such, covered up (this is not the audit on MWAA as such, it is an audit of Dulles Phase 2 as such - it began in March 2012 and it is still going on), after watching the news media and our so-called 'leaders' draw our attention like a laser focus to the bad, but relatively smaller items of MWAA misconduct, while completely ignoring the multi-Billion dollar overcharges in this job, and the staggering effect the overcharges will have, especially after finance charges are tacked on, after watching everybody whistling and looking the other way - now, as I have warned, I see this $26 Billion monster rearing its head. Who do you think should pay $26 billion for the transportation needs of people around Washington DC? Potato farmers in Idaho? So who will PAY this Billion dollars a year (assuming that by some miracle it doesn't skyrocket like everything else in these projects does)? Maryland? DC? Or Northern Virginia? Hmmmm.
No Toll Increase January 25, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Let's see, the federal government is on a four-years-and-counting run of $1 trillion+ deficits, Virginia and Maryland both face transportation funding shortfalls... Yep, it will get shoved down on the local jurisdictions, which will soon include Loudoun if Phase 2 of the Silver Line ever gets built. Congratulations! As Supervisor Ken Reid so famously said "If you have Rail, all you do is raise taxes" He also said "The bigger problem is the Metro board, because they are the ones we will be beholding to for the next century or more" That was a couple months before he voted to strangle our county with this disaster. Watch the video here: http://youtu.be/ZUcvrPPMO1Y
Bob Bruhns January 25, 2013 at 04:10 PM
Do a web search on ' The excessive pricing of the Dulles Rail - Silver Line Metrorail project ', and you can see the double pricing in the Dulles Rail / Silver Line job. Also, do a web search on ' MWAA's Weak Policies and Procedures Have Led to Questionable Procurement Practices, Mismanagement, and a Lack of Overall Accountability ' and you can read, right on the DOT GOV website, about the double-priced contract funneling that is being hushed up in the news. Be sure to read about "Contractor A" - it's on page 14 of the report ( page 15 of the pdf). Find No Toll Increase, and sign their petition. Contact your elected representatives and give them a piece of your mind. DEMAND THAT THE COST ESTIMATORS BE CALLED OUT TO EXPLAIN THEIR SKY-HIGH ESTIMATES. This project is a RIPOFF, and you are going to be paying for it for generations! And do a web search on ' Audit Initiated of Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project ' - you'll see, again right on the DOT GOV website, the next shocking US DOT audit of this mess, that we will be hearing about in the coming year. The so-called 'news media' refuses to MENTION this audit, but it has been going on since March 2012. Isn't that interesting. I'm telling you, people - wake up. You are being robbed.
David A. LaRock January 26, 2013 at 04:09 AM
Choice 1: continue to dump money into expanding this underfunded and dilapidated death trap that is called Metro paying hundreds of millions of $ above and beyond the construction costs to rebuild the system. Choice 2: Continue to ignore the needs and bank on a worn out relic of 19th century technology as the centerpiece of your economic development - transportation plan Choice 3: Let developers who will profit-- pay. As per the funding agreement http://www.metwashairports.com/file/dtfundingagreement.pdf that Loudoun approved, page 3 para 2, There is no committment to fund this boondoggle beyond the current fiscal year. Loudoun supervisors can let the station-area developers pay by refusing to pile this expense onto taxpayers. But will they?
Jim Hubbard January 26, 2013 at 09:28 PM
Hopefully, Metro's strategic vision is the first step towards an adult conversation about transportation in the region. The strategic vision makes several important points. First, the current network is, or soon will be, inadequate. More river crossings are needed. in particular. If the region is not to strangle on auto traffic, the Metro rail system seems to add capacity. Second, additional capacity will be expensive. $26 billion is a sufficiently big number to communicate the reality that there are no free lunches. If we are to provide the means for people to move around the region without relying on cars, if we are to conserve oil and if we are to improve air quality, the region's tax payers, automobile owners, and commuters are going to have to reach into their pockets. Obviously no one likes to hear such news, but the sooner the facts are available, the sooner we can overcome the predictable resistance.
David A. LaRock January 27, 2013 at 09:37 AM
Jim, the free lunches ARE there as the current funding model shows...they go to Metro riders who do not pay enough to operate their trains, much less build them. People prefer cars, so build better roads and pay for them with gas tax revenue. Let train riders and the station-area developers dig into their pockets instead of picking the pockets of all Virginians as the "Road to the Future" proposes.
Gene January 27, 2013 at 01:52 PM
I agree with David, too often these days we move money around like a shell game. Users of Metro should pay what it costs to build and operate.
Jim Hubbard January 27, 2013 at 02:07 PM
The key issue here is not what people prefer but what works. Even now, there are more cars on the roads than the road system can handle. Cars use oil, a finite, non-renewable resource. Cars create air pollution. A car-based future is not possible for an area like Northern Virginia nor for any other metropolitan area in the United States. As it happens, Metro riders pay a much greater share of Metro's costs than do users of other major mass transit systems in the United States. Nowhere in the civilized world are mass transit systems expected to be self-supporting. Again, the most successful systems (greatest capacity, most efficient, most benefits for their regions) , like those in London and Paris, rely heavily on revenues other than from the fare boxes. The roads we have were not built and are not maintained from the equivalent of Metro fares. Car users are subsidized far more than Metro riders. Again, this is a model that is not sustainable. Tolls on limited access roads; congestion charges similar to those in London, and perhaps usage fees charged per mile driven are all in our future.
David A. LaRock January 27, 2013 at 02:32 PM
People in Loudoun love express buses. Buses use roads with cars. they take people from where THEY want live to where THEY want go. This system is paid for mostly by users. People love it and it works. But it cuts out the fat cat station-are developers who pull the strings of many politicians. BTW Jim, people will keep their cars. When you toll them off DTR to build a train few will use, you trash the environment and hurt people's quality of life. Remember Jim, the trains run on electricity that comes from, oil, coal, etc at least until the other overly subsidized industry pays off., but don't bet your Solyndra stock on that happening soon!
joe brewer January 27, 2013 at 10:58 PM
Lets use Amtrack as a example of rail. yikes.
Jim Hubbard January 28, 2013 at 01:19 AM
Most adult Americans have grown up using cars whenever and wherever they wanted. As the comments above demonstrate, they will not reduce their car usage easily. Nevertheless, urban and suburban America will be very different within the next 10-20 years than they have been for the past 40-50 years. Population growth alone will mean that car travel will be slower and more difficult. There will be decreasing room for more or bigger roads. Gas prices will almost certainly increase. Pressure to reduce air pollution will increase. If people are going to be able to move around built-up areas with any ease, use of Metro-style trains, light rail, and especially buses will have to increase. Creating these alternatives will be very difficult. Besides resistance from car drivers, the low population densities in the Washington suburbs pose a substantial obstacle. Providing alternatives will be expensive and require real ingenuity, but eventually alternatives will have to be found. The Silver Line is hardly a model for mass transit projects. One could readily criticize its timing, its design and route, its financing and the presumed link between it and more development. Nevertheless, something like the Silver Line was almost inevitable, just like an extension of Metro further west on I-66 is inevitable. Focusing on the Silver Line's flaws and seeing them as reasons to cling to your cars is, I believe, a real mistake.
Java Master January 28, 2013 at 01:19 AM
wrong wrong wrong...Note to all your social-engineerin types out there: Private autos are completely preferable here in the burbs. You are just a car-hating, radical environmentalist, period. Come see the u.s.a. in my chevrolet, Jim! I'm heading for the wide open spaces ( not to mention the shopping mall) with 300 hp under my hood, all you got is a dirty, slow metro bus that breaks down at Fort Totten!
Java Master January 28, 2013 at 01:19 AM
wrong wrong wrong...Note to all your social-engineerin types out there: Private autos are completely preferable here in the burbs. You are just a car-hating, radical environmentalist, period. Come see the u.s.a. in my chevrolet, Jim! I'm heading for the wide open spaces ( not to mention the shopping mall) with 300 hp under my hood, all you got is a dirty, slow metro bus that breaks down at Fort Totten!
Java Master January 28, 2013 at 01:27 AM
You are welcome to pay for all the metro and metro-bus rides you care to use, James. But don't you dare pick my pocket to pay for your mass transit fantasies. Your apocalyptic visions of total traffic gridlock is false. We shall continue to insist upon the personal mobilit y, privacy, and personal freedom that only private vehicles can provide. You, on the other hand, may continue to be Chicken Little screeching at the metro bus stop, while we drive past you.
Bob Bruhns January 28, 2013 at 06:29 PM
The clear double price of the Dulles Rail / Silver Line project, and the comment by a Fairfax County official that WMATA construction prices were similar, should be a loud, clear warning that this $26 billion WMATA plan - even if by some miracle it does not balloon as fast as WMATA can expand it - is sure to be massively overpriced. We really can't afford $5.6 to $6 Billion (depending on who fills out the Tifia loan paperwork) for the rail extension, and now we get this $26 Billion surprise? At the very least, careful cost oversight needs to be applied, and the line-item pricetags need to be public information and broken further out if requested. What is happening in the Dulles Rail / Silver Line under MWAA is ridiculous, and people need to understand that WMATA is the same animal. $26 Billion? From where? Even the news media had to pause at that figure, and our so-called 'leaders' are probably still trying to catch their breaths - or maybe they are watching the public apathy levels, to see if they dare to be a part of this even bigger ripoff. After what MWAA did, there is a whole new level of ripoff to beat! Wonder if WMATA can get friends and family in there with them, take gifts, and award contracts to the 1.3x to 3.3x highest bidder, like MWAA did. And hey, maybe the pen name posters will come back too! With full employment for pen name boosters, the economy will surely be coming back!
Bob Bruhns February 01, 2013 at 02:10 PM
1) Vehicle pollution complaints are outdated. We are entering an era of renewable energy, and this is showing up in electric-powered cars as well. Busses are moving into this era too - and if you don't think you are going to need busses, with or without the rail that we are paying two times for - think again. 2) It was claimed that there are too many cars on the road now - but evidently there are also too many trains on the rail systems we have, given that WMATA is looking for another $26 billion, presumably on top of the $13.3 billion that they already needed for maintenance and capital needs that we already could not afford. THERE'S a question for the press conference that HAS to be coming - are these numbers separate? Did the $13.3 Billion just suddenly morph into $26 Billion in the usual "I hear $13.3 Billion, do I hear $26 billion" fashion - or are we ALREADY looking at $39.3 Billion? Of course it won't matter much, because history shows that the number will quickly surpass $39.3 Billion, at the rate of unopposed hyperinflation we are seeing in these projects "I hear $13.3 billion, do I hear $26 Billion? $26 billion, do I hear $40 billion? $40 Billion, do I hear $60 billion?" Etc, etc, etc. And who is doing the cost estimating, anyway - the Church or something? Because they are NEVER questioned! Do they speak only to prophets on mountaintops, and are their utterings then carved into tablets, and brought down to us as some kind of Unquestionable Fact?
Glenn February 02, 2013 at 02:20 AM
A study I made several years ago found that the Metro subway system used more electicity per passenger mile than the same energy used to transport a single passenger in fuel efficent car one mile. The fuel efficiency of Metro is bogus. Just watch the nearly empty 6 car trains most of the day. We are suckers for a lie retold many times by the backers of Metro. No I guess it is not a lie. They really believe it. It is a faith.
Bob Bruhns April 13, 2013 at 09:42 PM
Speaking of unquestioned estimates, Arlington County had budgeted $20.86 million for a total of 22 of the "Super Stop" bus stops that you may have heard about. $1M exposed D.C.-area bus stop leaves straphangers out in the rain CBS News, March 28, 2013 8:31 AM http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505263_162-57576724/$1m-exposed-d.c.-area-bus-stop-leaves-straphangers-out-in-the-rain/ That's about $948,000 per stop. WMATA was behind that. And yes, the same WMATA wants $26 Billion for Metro upgrades. Is the picture getting any clearer yet?


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