Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Loudoun Get to Know Metro Before Saying "I Do"

Getting to know your new Metro partner: Part 1

Getting to know your new Metro partner: Part 2

Yes, the Metro is the same relic that Loudouners are told is the key to achieving Loudoun's economic destiny. Wow!

We'll need Metro advocate, Dr. Fuller (pronounced full-of-it), to explain how Tysons Corner became the 12th largest employment center in the United States without Metro. Fuller works as an advisor to the development community. Fuller has appeared on the scene recently trying to insert his unsubstantiated opinions by lobbying through Scott York with contrived info-nuggets from a yet-to-be-released study commissioned by we don't know who. Fuller's spectacular claims contradict the clear and credible forecast (RCLCO Study) that is in the hands of Loudoun officials. The Lesser study shows Metro to Loudoun as a financial disaster for Loudouns taxpayers.

Original posted on Bacon's Rebellion as "Pencil Whipping Mass Transit"
Posted on March 27, 2012 by James A. Bacon|

In my previous post, I objected to the Virginia state Senate voting to pump an additional $300 million into the Rail-to-Dulles heavy rail project without demanding more accountability from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), the entity in charge of overseeing design and construction. Now, let’s stop to think what happens when construction is complete and the Silver Line is handed over to the tender mercies of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for day-to-day operation.

What do we know about WMATA? Well, as pointed out yesterday, the authority has racked up $13.3 billion in capital replacement and maintenance backlogs, including $6.5 billion for which it has not identified a funding source. That should come as no surprise now that we read in the Washington Times about WMATA’s “culture of complacence, incompetence and lack of diversity.”

WMATA is not only a union shop that resists efforts to increase productivity and efficiency, it has a clubby culture marked by rampant racial favoritism. People don’t talk about the favoritism because it doesn’t fit the dominant narrative of whites oppressing people of color. In WMATA’s case, blacks discriminate against whites and Hispanics, and men against women. As the Times leads its story:

Ninety-seven percent of the bus and train operators at [WMATA] are black, with only six white women out of more than 3,000 drivers, according to Metro documents — a lack of diversity at one of the region’s largest employers that has led to an acknowledgment of failure in affirmative-action documents and spawned a series of lawsuits.

With Metro’s budget chronically strained and reports of mismanagement coming more regularly than trains, interviews and internal records depict a likely root: an environment in which hardworking employees are actively excluded and those who rise are those willing to do the bare minimum — never causing a stir by flagging rampant safety violations, reporting malfeasance or proposing improvements.

Perhaps the most telling detail in the report is a description of the practice of “pencil whipping” — a practice so pervasive that there is a term for it. It refers to the fudging of inspections and other reports.

The state of Virginia and local governments served by WMATA help cover the organization’s operating deficit. When Rail-to-Dulles project is handed over to WMATA, the state will sink even deeper into the Metro morass. Unfortunately, if the recent past is prelude, Virginia will dish out funds to WMATA as passively as it has forked over money to MWAA.

Virginia will need more mass transit in the future as automobility becomes increasingly unaffordable. But the current model for mass transit in Virginia is badly broken, beyond hope of self-repair. Deficit-plagued bus and rail businesses will not survive a prolonged belt-tightening by state, local and federal government. What transportation options will Metro riders have if WMATA goes belly up?

Where are the supporters of mass transit? Why are they silent? Are they scared of stigmatizing their favored transportation mode? That’s happening already. They must join the clamor for reform or risk seeing mass transit swept away in a tide of red ink.


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