As leaders of the Washington area’s business community, we applaud the leadership of former U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood and the release of his report on Metro. We are especially pleased that the report focuses on three concurrent areas of reform: dedicated funding, governance and operations. Without substantial reform in each of these areas, Metro will not be able to deliver the level of safe, reliable, and sustainable service that is of critical importance to the region.
We believe that the elements of reform outlined in Secretary LaHood’s report set a clear path towards returning Metro to America’s number one transit system. Specifically, we support the timely installation of a temporary, 5-member reform board that would eliminate the conflict created by the dual fiduciary dynamic that exists in the current board structure. The installation of this board will remove barriers to Metro achieving the operational reforms outlined in the report, including more efficient service and the effective delivery of the system’s capital program which will attract ridership and improve the financial health of the system.
We also agree with Secretary LaHood that operational improvements will be required to right-size WMATA’s service offerings in light of important cost-benefit realities, but urge that any service adjustments be evaluated through a dual lens of matching evolving ridership demand trends while still recognizing the transportation needs of vulnerable or disadvantaged populations. Lastly, we agree with the Secretary’s recommendation that Metro’s funding jurisdictions must provide at least $500 million of dedicated funding that is reliable and bondable. As has long been our position, each of these areas of reform go hand-in-hand and are critically important to the future of Metro.
Secretary LaHood’s report is yet another step towards necessary reform for Metro, and we are hopeful that the implementation of the recommendations outlined in the report will set Metro on a sustainable path. Comprehensive reform across funding, governance and operations will bring about the greatest benefit to the regional economy of Virginia, Maryland, and the District and to the people who depend on Metro every day. We urge our regional leaders to respond to the recommendations outlined in the report by taking immediate action towards reform. The time to act is now.