Today’s Issues

 

How Metroriders can monitor and get involved in FY’2012 Budget process-

Visit our How you can help page. Metroriders can also stay informed by signing up for email updates of MetroRiders.Org activities and proposed solutions to Metro’s problems; Metroriders can Send a Message to State and local officials about major policy and funding issues, and to Metro’s Board/staff about Metro policy, funding and operational issues.

MetroRiders.Org recently sent a letter to WMATA re security supporting full discretion for the Metro GM/CEO to continue random bag inspections for security purposes. This position was in direct contrast to the WMATA Riders Advisory Council(RAC). MetroRiders.Org believes that the GM/CEO should exercise his judgment under his existing discretionary authority from the Board, after considering all factors, including input from Metro’s Chief of Police, as to which combinations of security programs would best protect Metro’s passengers and its facilities from terrorist risk.

MetroRiders.Org also recently testified before the Maryland State legislature regarding the establishment of criteria for the Maryland governor’s appointment of Board members for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Metroriders can be informed about the issue by clicking here- MRO – Testimony before Maryland Senate Committee .

HOW RIDERS CAN PARTICIPATE IN METRO BOARD ACTIVITIES

Metro riders and other members of the public can directly participate in making Metro operations better.  Here are some suggestions.

1.         Monitor Metro Board Committee meeting agendas.

Based in part on our efforts, the Metro Board now places the documents that are sent to Metro Board Members on Friday afternoon in preparation for the following Thursday’s Metro Committee and Board of Directors’ meetings on the WMATA website on that same preceding Friday (by 5 p.m.) so that they are available to the public.

These documents can be located on the WMATA website, About Metro, Board of Directors, Board Meetings and Agendas.  There’s generally a link to a Metro staff-prepared document connected to each agenda item.

Also, at the same location there is a link to Metro’s Calendar so that you can see when different Board Committee meetings are scheduled within each month.

2.         Make your views known between Friday and the following Wednesday.

For MetroRiders.Org, there is often a lot of emailing and some phone calls between Friday and Tuesday as the organization decides whether it should submit written comments to Board Committee or Board members on any listed agenda item.

If you have views to express as an individual, this is the best time to get active.  Most decisions on important operational, facility and funding matters are made at the Board Committee level, and those decisions are generally rubber-stamped at the next full Board of Directors meeting without much further discussion.

3.         Sending email comments to boardofdirectors@wmata.com is not always effective.

Originally, comments sent to the Metro Board’s email address (above) by mid-day Wednesday would be received and hopefully read by Board members in advance of their leaving for their Thursday morning Metro meetings. More recently, Metro staff controls the flow of emails to Board members since different members have different views on getting unfiltered emails from the public.

To cover this gap, MetroRiders.Org attempts to send copies of our comments to Board members at their regular offices as well.  If you’re trying to reach those local public officials who also serve on the Metro Board, you can find their official email addresses in the city, county or state with which they’re connected. Check their biographies on that same Board of Directors website for this information.

4.         You can appear in person during “public comment” periods of Metro Board meetings.

The Metro Board’s regular board meetings include a limited public comment period.  Individuals can sign up to make brief oral remarks on most any topic (not Metro contract issues) right before each Board meeting starts.  You can also supply copies of written materials for Board and Metro officials in attendance at the Board meetings.

Board members don’t often respond substantively to the issues raised by individuals during the public comment period.  Also, as noted above, by the time a Board meeting starts, the probable decisions on any current Board agenda items have been formed in the Board Committees.  So speaking at Board meetings is generally “too little too late.”

5.         Also participate in Metro Town Hall Meetings and Public Hearings

Metro Boards of Directors are scheduling more meetings and hearings in which to obtain rider and public comment on important issues (fare increases, changes in bus and rail service, etc.).  Check the Metro webpage or the local newspapers for information on these opportunities.  Generally, Metro keeps a public document on public hearing matters and individuals can send letters or emails for inclusion in the docket.

HOW COST-EFFICIENT ARE WMATA’S METRORAIL AND METROBUS OPERATIONS?

As Metro’s capital and operating costs are increasing, and pressures mount for even higher fares from Metro riders, the question is often raised as to how cost efficient is our Metro system compared to other major U.S. transit systems.

DOT’s Federal Transit Administration maintains a National Transit Database, last updated with 2009 data, that includes lots of very technical information with which one can compare transit system costs, cost recovery and overall efficiency.

The Citizen’s Budget Commission of New York has recently (April 2011) put together a report that benchmarks the agencies that comprise the New York MTA.  Since both Metrorail and Metrobus were selected as comparator agencies for the NYCTA subway and NYCTA bus and MTA bus systems, the charts in that document show how our local system compares to other major transit agencies.

What the charts seem to show is that our Metrorail is a very expensive system to operate by just about any measure in the National Transit Database.  However, since Metrorail has a very high rate of cost recovery, that high cost doesn’t seem to get much national attention.

Metrobus’s costs by industry standards are not high.  What the report doesn’t discuss is that Metrobus until recently had very low fares leading to a low cost recovery.

Here’s the link to the full CBC report: http://www.cbcny.org/sites/default/files/REPORT_MTA_04062011.pdf

See how Metro rates at page 6-8 (Subways); pages 9-11 (Buses).