Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The . . . Most . . . Dysfunctional . . . Transit . . . Board . . . EVER!

Yes, that will be the WMATA Board of Directors.

Just as we were all headed out the door for a nice Labor Day weekend away from the lunacies of our daily routines, Dr. Gridlock writes a telling article entitled, "Why Metro wants to kill the Dulles 5A bus route."  This route provides service from Washington's L'Enfant Plaza via Rosslyn and the Herndon-Reston P&R before going on to Dulles airport.  Your alternatives from DC are Silver Line to Wiehle and transfer to an IAD-bound bus (being pushed by some WMATA Board members) or the Washington Flyer. 
  • From a Metro perspective, operating a direct bus route is less expensive than a combination subway-bus route for both itself and its riders.
  • Being a direct route, the 5A bus is much less of a hassle for employees and travelers than the on/off in Reston.
  • The transfer alone at Wiehle makes the trip longer and less certain.
So why would the WMATA Board even consider such an action?

Well, it seems that a Maryland member of the Board, Michael Goldman by name, doesn't think the taxpayers of Maryland should be subsidizing a bus route that serves only DC and Virginia.  I'm just wondering how many Marylanders take a train or bus to L'Enfant Plaza to catch the 5A to IAD.   Does Mr. Goldman know?  Does Metro know?  I doubt it.

Deputy Chairman (and Reston-area member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors) Cathy Hudgins countered:
Stunned by Goldman’s proposal, Fairfax representative Catherine Hudgins said that if Maryland wasn’t paying for the route, why should Fairfax County pay? After all, she said, the Fairfax residents are likely taking Fairfax Connector buses to Dulles.
“This is a regional system and I will put my money on the fact that there are Marylanders that are using it as well,” Hudgins said.
She offered a solution: If it’s serving D.C., let D.C. pay for it. Then the board agreed to put the route back on the docket for public hearing.
She made her point about the regional nature of Metro by out-parochializing Maryland's Goldman!  Good on her!  No doubt her point was to make Goldman and other Board members think about how stupid Goldman's proposal is.  This kind of thinking taken to its illogical conclusion would mean each jurisdiction (maybe even at the county or community level) would pay just enough to cover the stations in its jurisdiction or even just the number of passengers who entered or exited at a station in their jurisdiction.   

Metro is a regional transit system.  It is not--or, more accurately, should not be--a kluged-together set of County or smaller jurisdiction transit agencies.  If its Board can not act like a regional transit agency Board of Directors, all of them should resign or be summarily replaced by those who can.  Otherwise, we will continue to have the same poor decisions--and even lack of decisions--on critical matters affecting the future and operations of Metro.

And while the WMATA Board is dealing with this really stupid proposal, it is not selecting a new General Manager, making Metrorail safer, making it more reliable, less expensive, etc.  It is wasting time, money, and whatever remaining confidence and goodwill the transit-riding public has in its judgment. 

Nonetheless, the WMATA Board will be wasting its time to hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Sept. 17, at the Jackson Graham Building, 600 5th St. NW, in the District.  If you have any interest at all in this matter, you had better trek to DC and testify because we have no confidence that the Board will even come close to making a wise decision. 

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