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The Washington Post Urges a Radical Fix for D.C. Metro: Federal Takeover

The Washington Post opines that the best way to end Metro's 'death spiral' is to have the federal government take it over, similar to the way it intervened in the district's fiscal meltdown in the 1990s or Puerto Rico's debt crisis this summer.
November 5, 2016, 7am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Orhan Cam

A Washington Post editorial lays out two stark options for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro):

One option is to continue allowing Metro to wither, ensuring the Washington metropolitan area’s economic degeneration and imperiling the federal workforce.

Maybe it is time to consider Option B: a federal control board, modeled on those that intervened to manage the District of Columbia amid its fiscal meltdown in the 1990s or, just this year, to rescue Puerto Rico from its debt crisis.

The editorial suggests that a takeover would allow Congress to create a control board which would bring "an infusion of federal cash for Metro" in exchange for "sweeping reforms and service improvements." 

A control board would also in effect become the arbitrator of last resort for labor contracts with Metro’s reform-resistant unions.

"Along with new investment, Metro must have new governance," they add. WMATA is governed by a board of directors composed of representatives from Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and the federal government. 

The new control board "(u)nder federal auspices...would include a governing board of transit, finance and management professionals, not local politicians, who have overseen the agency in its descent," they write.

To this observer, the idea has merit. Just look at the roots of the second most heavily used subway system in America.

However, today's Congress appears far more polarized than the Congress that President Lyndon Johnson had to work with to pass mass transit legislation in the 1960s essential to the creation of Metro and other subway systems during the heady days of the Great Society.


Washington Post: Budget proposal paints grim portrait of Metro’s future, Oct. 30, 2016

A few of the many related posts in Planetizen: 

Hat tip to Kenyon Karl.

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, November 1, 2016 in The Washington Post - Editorial
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