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@drumz

+1

Just to echo this, I live in a 12 story building along Connecticut Ave in NW - my bedroom window literally looks out across the street at the front yard of a 2 story, single family home.

The debate about this Adams Morgan building is just absurd. And it can't be emphasized enough that this "plaza" we are talking about is just an extra wide bit of sidewalk, oppressively hot in the summer and (likely) a pain to shovel/de-ice in the winter. Considering there's another one just like it directly across the street, I don't understand why this one is so significant that it needs to be kept.

by Travis Maiers in Adams Morgan could get more housing and preserve its plaza, too. But it probably won't. on Sep 26, 2016 1:21 pm • linkreport

JimT - oh, you're talking about using MetroAccess vans.

MetroAccess currently costs $51 per ride ($6 paid by rider; $45 paid by government). Costs would be less if the vans were run as a Night Owl service on fixed routes but it still might be cheaper to use Uber. In fact, DC started contracting out some MetroAccess duties to taxis for that very reason.

by Falls Church in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 1:16 pm • linkreport

I find the photo of using the tombstone as a picnic table to be in bad taste. Just spread the same lunch on a blanket placed on the adjacent grass and I'd be happy.

by tour guide in F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are buried just a block away from the Rockville Metro station on Sep 26, 2016 1:14 pm • linkreport

Washingtonian points this out about once every three months, it seems.

by Brian Rostron in F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are buried just a block away from the Rockville Metro station on Sep 26, 2016 1:04 pm • linkreport

Want a plaza? Build higher to recover the lost square footage. Don't want more housing in your hood? Then address the actual issue instead of proxy issues.

Historic preservation on that corner is laughable. Is the intersection important? Sure. Is there anything on that corner worth 'preserving'? Not by a long shot. This is private land. Just build the darn thing already. The residents have ruined their chance for meaningful input by being unreasonable in their demands.

by Chris T in Adams Morgan could get more housing and preserve its plaza, too. But it probably won't. on Sep 26, 2016 1:02 pm • linkreport

@Shermin
The concept is solid, though personally I'm more comfortable with the executive of WMATA being handled by a hired managed, similar to a 'Council-Manager' government where a true expert can be hired to administer the org, while being overseen by an elected board.

by Dan P. in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 1:00 pm • linkreport

Without taking a position on this specific proposal I'll still say your statement is simply wrong. If you have a residential neighborhood where nothing is over 2-3 stories (not that that describes Adams Morgan) and an 11-story building is put up in the middle of it then it will certainly feel "too tall."

There's not much I can do about people's feelings but this very situation exists all over the city/region (take a trip up Connecticut avenue for example) and the measurable impacts are never as dire as predicted.

Can a tall building be a shock? Yes. Can it be incongruous with the rest of the neighborhood? Yes (so can really short ones in dense neighborhoods, yet these are viewed romantically). Does that mean the building is too tall? I'm not ready to say yes. Especially in Washington where we're never going to go higher than 130 feet or so.

by drumz in Adams Morgan could get more housing and preserve its plaza, too. But it probably won't. on Sep 26, 2016 12:54 pm • linkreport

If we invest in dozens of vans and drivers for late night service, what happens to all that equipment and drivers if we want to reinstate late night rail service in a few years?

Quite a few vans are parked between midnight and 3:00 a.m. now, so I don't see why new vans need to be built for this. As for the drivers, the number of drivers needed to run late-night owl service is not great, compared to the number of drivers available.

by JimT in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 12:52 pm • linkreport

Looking at the renderings, the Columbia Road frontage is bad.

https://www.borderstan.com/files/2016/09/PNH-1800-Columbia-Road-ANC1C-PZT-09212016-vf.pdf

If PN Hoffman, doesn't want to deal with filing a PUD and waiting, they can sell the property. Voice and Exit work both ways.

From an urban perspective, I'm pretty neutral if a plaza would help the area.

From a zoning perspective -- which is what the ANC is considering -- yeah, massing is a way of dealing with the externalities of new buildings. So proper analysis and decision.

No idea on the HPRB issue; I think the bank building is pretty bad and needs to be replaced.

by charlie in Adams Morgan could get more housing and preserve its plaza, too. But it probably won't. on Sep 26, 2016 12:50 pm • linkreport

I'd want to see an evaluation of the emissions impact from subsidizing ride-hailing apps. If there are very few people using late-night buses, then maybe ride-hailing doesn't result in worse emissions, but you'd have to include the time that the driver is waiting to be hailed. Also, if WMATA were to develop a read night-bus system, I imagine that would encourage people to use it (induced demand).

by DAR in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 12:48 pm • linkreport

Before we look at subsidized Uber or taxis as an alternative to Metrobus night owl, shouldn't we consider running Metro Access buses or shuttle
vans on the fixed route?

If we invest in dozens of vans and drivers for late night service, what happens to all that equipment and drivers if we want to reinstate late night rail service in a few years?

by Falls Church in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 12:38 pm • linkreport

How about better late night better service instead of using uber and lyft

by Jay on 4 in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 12:38 pm • linkreport

Why do external visions for Lyttonsville (and other places) get privileged over the visions and desires of longtime residents? This post and many others about Lyttonsville begin with the premise that Lyttonsville is somehow stigmatized, poor, and incapable of deciding what is best for its people and spaces. So what's the solution? Lots of outside interventions that structurally resemble the same interventions that led to decades of environmental racism, urban renewal, and disinvestment by the County? Not according to many critics of "false choice urbanism." There's clear and compelling evidence, contrary to this post's author's assertions that planners and developers "heard" what Lyttonsville residents were saying in public meetings, that Lyttonsville residents were saying and writing one thing and the planners, et al., were hearing something different.

by David Rotenstein in Scarred by urban renewal, Silver Spring's Lyttonsville neighborhood gets a second chance on Sep 26, 2016 12:36 pm • linkreport

"HPRB member, architect, and stalwart opponent of height (except on his own buildings) Graham Davidson said it was too tall and too massive."

Shocking that a developer doesn't want more tall buildings after he's already built some tall buildings and wants to preserve those buildings' viewsheds.

The HPRB and many ANCs unfortunately have a BANANA view of new development: Build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything. Too bad they don't live in a stagnant city where such a selfish philosophy would be easier to enforce.

by Jeremy in Adams Morgan could get more housing and preserve its plaza, too. But it probably won't. on Sep 26, 2016 12:30 pm • linkreport

Why not call the NIMBY's out for what they really want?

It is likely some inane reason for protecting the status quo, such as public parking spaces (which I may add, would be considered moot if DC charged market value for parking permits).

This coded language about height and development is reminiscent of how politicians talk about legitimizing racial discrimination (e.g. redlining, drug laws). It's BS and we further legitimize the NIMBY's opinions by not pointing out the obvious.

By saying no to everything, NIMBY's are destroying what should be a beneficial relationship between the developer and a community. Due to hysteria every time, moderate minded citizens can start to believe that local communities should NOT have an opinion.

In the last decade (if not longer), there is little to no evidence that new urban development, built with the urban fabric in mind, has ever harmed a neighborhood like NIMBYs claim it would.

For every floor removed in planning, its housing that is gone for at least a generation or two. In a city where quality housing in good neighborhoods is increasingly out of reach, this is unacceptable.

by cmc in Adams Morgan could get more housing and preserve its plaza, too. But it probably won't. on Sep 26, 2016 12:29 pm • linkreport

I've been following this controversy for a while now, but I have one real question: Who do the developers HAVE to appease?

Is it just the HPRB? The ANC and protestors appear to be acting in bad faith, but do they really have any say in the matter? The Borderstan article about the HPRB review sounds the usual amount of stupid, but is there other necessary stupid to deal with in between now and the bulldozers?

by Ampersand in Adams Morgan could get more housing and preserve its plaza, too. But it probably won't. on Sep 26, 2016 12:24 pm • linkreport

Before we look at subsidized Uber or taxis as an alternative to Metrobus night owl, shouldn't we consider running Metro Access buses or shuttle
vans on the fixed route?

by JimT in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 12:22 pm • linkreport

But even here in the area, MWAA might be a better example. It has no local-government-level representation.

MWAA, unlike WMATA, doesn't need any direct funding from local governments. The airports are financially self-sustaining based on their own revenues and federal appropriations for airports.

So, they're very different animals.

What MWAA does have going for it (and Kevyn Orr pointed this out in his presentation) is that there is a clear mission for the Board members. Part of that is due to their standing, but part of it is also the nature of the organization.

by Alex B. in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 12:17 pm • linkreport

drumz wrote:

"No building in Washington is 'too-tall'. No building in Washington is 'too-tall'. No building in Washington is 'too-tall'."

Without taking a position on this specific proposal I'll still say your statement is simply wrong. If you have a residential neighborhood where nothing is over 2-3 stories (not that that describes Adams Morgan) and an 11-story building is put up in the middle of it then it will certainly feel "too tall."

I'm surprised that even needs explaining.

by Kevin in Adams Morgan could get more housing and preserve its plaza, too. But it probably won't. on Sep 26, 2016 12:15 pm • linkreport

An elected WMATA board is an interesting thought experiment, but setting one up might be impossible. We don't really want people who live in Lynchburg or Baltimore voting for these board members, do we? MD had never clearly defined the outer boundaries of who is served, but clearly it included Anne Arundel, Charles, and Howard Counties, as well as PG and MoCo.

The jurisdictional veto would have to be eliminated or replaced by a super-majority requirement, or there would be s one-person one-vote problem. DC's voting representation would be commensurate with its share of the population, which DC seems unlikely to accept.

by JimT in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 12:13 pm • linkreport

Part of Evan's concern is the board is too beholden to it's parochial interests. Here's an idea...

Why not have board members appointed or elected from districts that cross jurisdictional lines so that no member represents one particular jurisdiction. State and local jurisdictional boarders are politically important but arbitrary, so why do we have to follow them if we're considering blowing up the Compact? This is especially true with parts of the region's counties-Western MoCo, SE PGC, western Loudoun, etc.-that are rural and have little to no need for transit of any kind.

Use the census urbanized area and divide it up into a limited number (6?) of similarly populated urbanized districts with the caveat that all districts must include multiple jurisdictions and at least 2 must cross state lines. It may makes more sense to organize districts based on their proximity to the core rather than by state.

Every 10 years, update the districts based on the new census, just like for Congressional districts. The compact language could create the legal process by which the districts are drawn, such as establishing an independent commission to draw them, so that the compact would not need to be updated every ten years.

Another crazy option that would never happen, but makes an interesting thought experiment...

Create a regional WMATA 'mayor,' who is elected every 4 years by a vote of the compact populace. The mayor would have executive authority over all WMATA decisions. Then create a regional legislative body that would provide checks and balances to the mayor, such as the ability to block certain decisions with a super-majority vote.

There are all sorts of reasons why these would probably never actually happen, but you couldn't do worse than what we have now.

by Sherman in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 12:07 pm • linkreport

No building in Washington is "too-tall". No building in Washington is "too-tall". No building in Washington is "too-tall".

The notion that any building can be too tall in a city where you can't build more than 12 or 13 floors because of an insanely strict height limit should be absurd on its face. But our political culture has gotten to a point where we have to persuade people that their worst fears won't be realized if an 7 or 8 story building is built in a neighborhood already full of those.

We're not even talking about benefits of a taller building. I'd love to do that. But a ton of energy has to be used just fact-checking the fear mongering that takes place every time someone sees an architectural rendering and decides that this building will be the last straw.

by drumz in Adams Morgan could get more housing and preserve its plaza, too. But it probably won't. on Sep 26, 2016 12:00 pm • linkreport

@Alex B.-Fair enough. You're right that it has to be an interstate compact. Nobody said it didn't.

But even here in the area, MWAA might be a better example. It has no local-government-level representation. All board members are appointed by the President, the Mayor of DC, or the Governors of VA or MD. And, for all its flaws, it's far better managed than Metro.

I guess my main point is that an interstate compact is unaccountable enough. But including local jurisdictions on the board and (in some cases) adding legislative branch officials alongside executive branch officials only makes the problem worse.

by Jimmy in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 11:57 am • linkreport

@ drumz

I will check that out thanks.

BTW, you and CBF and other commenters should consider coming to the next GGW happy hour. It would be good to actually meet in the real world.

by Paul M. in Scarred by urban renewal, Silver Spring's Lyttonsville neighborhood gets a second chance on Sep 26, 2016 11:53 am • linkreport

Ridehailing only works for those with smartphones and credit-cards.

Uber and Lyft work with prepaid debit cards. In Boston where Uber is replacing paratransit service, Uber is providing smartphones to some customers who don't have them.

I've never seen an Uber/Lyft car that can take wheelchairs... but assuming they do have them, then this transit advocate wouldn't have any issue with them receiving public dollars too.

Here's what they're doing in Boston:

As part of the agreement, Uber and Lyft are training drivers in dealing with special-needs populations, service animals will be allow on trips, and a share of the cars should be wheelchair accessible, officials said. About 80 percent of The Ride customers do not require accessible vehicles, officials said.

by Falls Church in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 11:52 am • linkreport

David, it seems unprofessional to give ANC candidates a deadline for submitting (Sept 19), post their responses publicly, and then allow latecomers even more time to submit responses. You are giving latecomers a serious advantage by allowing them to read the submitted responses before writing their own, and punishing candidates who actually respected your deadline.

by Timeflies in DC will have 300 hyper-local elections this fall. Can you help us sort through the candidates? on Sep 26, 2016 11:50 am • linkreport

@Jimmy, the PA uses bridge and tunnel revenues to prop up a lot of boondoggles, including some very shaky real estate investments. Fortunately, WMATA is not even in the same league, and has a much more narrowly defined mission.

by Paul W. in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 11:45 am • linkreport

Currently ridehailing services are very cheap because they are still run by start ups who are burning investor cash to try to gain market share. They appear cheap but as currently operated are not sustainable.

Uber is now profitable in the US:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/uber-says-profitable-us-much-151211910.html

They will be a lot more profitable once they stop spending so much on marketing -- such as giving everyone who signs up $20 off their first ride.

by Falls Church in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 11:45 am • linkreport

Both PATH and PATCO are managed by authorities whose boards are appointed exclusively by the governors of the states that belong to the compacy, not by a smattering of local government officials.

I'm not sure anyone wants to hold up the PA of NY and NJ as the paragon of transparency and accountability these days.

My point is this: "The decision to divorce Metro from this standard government agency structure" was forced the minute WMATA became an interstate compact, because there is no standard.

The only other obvious choice would've been for the federal government to directly own and operate Metro. The FAA did this for a long time with both DCA and IAD; the feds have set up wholly owned corporations (Amtrak) as well. But those are obviously not local models.

We can talk about ways to make interstate compacts more accountable, but that doesn't change the fact that they occupy the in-between space in our system of government.

by Alex B. in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 11:42 am • linkreport

Fortunately, Fitzgerald chose "on" instead of "off" for use in the line in his book. Though that would have been funnier.

by Andrew in F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are buried just a block away from the Rockville Metro station on Sep 26, 2016 11:35 am • linkreport

“It’s worth investigating whether Uber or Lyft would be willing to do a kind of pool operation where they’ll be able to pick up passengers from origination points.”

Metro is already considering a potential partnership with Uber and Lyft to help provide paratransit service in an attempt to curb the costs of the expensive MetroAccess program. Boston’s transit system just started a similar program, in which people with disabilities or limited mobility pay the first $2 of each trip, and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority covers up to an additional $13 of each fare

If Uber/Lyft can work for MetroAccess (in the same way Boston has implemented it), it's definitely worth exploring for late night service.

by Falls Church in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 11:34 am • linkreport

@Paul W.-Are you suggesting that WMATA is not already "a poorly managed pork-laden mess that has run up massive debts, and uses profitable enterprises to prop up unprofitable ones?"

My only quibble would be with the term "profitable." Nothing these authorities do is really profitable. But some are more unprofitable (i.e., require larger subsidies) than others.

by Jimmy in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 11:34 am • linkreport

Sara Murphy, who was allegedly the model for female character in "Tender is the night" died in a little suburban house right off a chain bridge road in Mclean.

A long way from the French Rivera.

You never know where a story is going to end up.

by charlie in F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are buried just a block away from the Rockville Metro station on Sep 26, 2016 11:33 am • linkreport

@Alex B.-You're right that an interstate compact is necessary. That doesn't mean the compact has to include local government representatives on its board or that it needs to have a 16-member board. Both PATH and PATCO are managed by authorities whose boards are appointed exclusively by the governors of the states that belong to the compacy, not by a smattering of local government officials. If you are a PATCO rider from Camden, NJ, for example, and are upset with how PATCO is managed, you know that it is the Governor of NJ (not, for example, the Mayor of Camden or a member of the Camden County Board) who is the elected official in your area ultimately responsible for PATCO issues. Sure, the chain of responsibility is a little attenuated. But, if you call up the Mayor's office with your complaint, I'm sure they'll be more than happy to direct you to the Governor's office. In our area, that responsibility is much harder to identify.

by Jimmy in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 11:31 am • linkreport

Wait, Arlington magazine.

fta,

“A lot of Arlington was built as inexpensive housing for government workers…[when] there were no building inspections,” Springberg says. He recalls one nightmare involving a house that was under renovation next to one of his new builds. “They found out it had been built without footings [underground pillars that provide critical support for a home’s foundation]. The whole back wall of the house fell down. They had a three-story house on top of a slab.”

Normile, whose company also does renovations, has similar horror stories to report. “I’ve found wiring covered by cloth [a fire hazard], so you have to rewire the house. I’ve had plumbers find pipes that are a combination of lead [which can leach into drinking water] and copper, so you’ve got to replumb the house,” he says. “You end up having to go backwards to go forwards.”

http://www.arlingtonmagazine.com/March-April-2012/Sizing-Up/index.php?cparticle=3&siarticle=2#artanc

by drumz in Scarred by urban renewal, Silver Spring's Lyttonsville neighborhood gets a second chance on Sep 26, 2016 11:23 am • linkreport

@Alex. B., and at least one of those, the PA of NY/NJ is a poorly managed pork-laden mess that has run up massive debts, and uses profitable enterprises to prop up unprofitable ones. Both governors are intimately involved in the working of the agency, to wit: "BridgeGate." Definitely *not* a model to emulate.

by Paul W. in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 11:23 am • linkreport

EYA, at least in my experience, does not build with that level of quality.

Kind of hard to predict what is going to happen in 80 years.

There could just be a bias that since the only buildings from 80 years ago are the ones that were built extremely sturdy that construction techniques must be worse today somehow.

There was a good article in Washington I believe about sfh teardowns in Arlington where one builder noted that so many homes were put up so quickly in the 1930s and 1940s that construction standards fell behind and it was a miracle that so many were still standing today. But it made renovations impossible if you wanted to bring a building up to modern building codes.

by drumz in Scarred by urban renewal, Silver Spring's Lyttonsville neighborhood gets a second chance on Sep 26, 2016 11:21 am • linkreport

Some issues with ride sharing replacing transit:

Currently ridehailing services are very cheap because they are still run by start ups who are burning investor cash to try to gain market share. They appear cheap but as currently operated are not sustainable. Cheap fares will not last forever unless driver pay goes down(or is eliminated with self driving cars)

Ridehailing only works for those with smartphones and credit-cards. While that is most of the population, it isn't all. It certainly would be easy for our social services to move to only providing services to creditworthy individuals, but what happens to the minority that are unbanked or uncreditworthy.

If WMATA starts subsidizing ridehailing services and directing it's customers to take it; at what point does WMATA become liable for incidents while using Uber/Lyft. Uber's insurance does not cover everything, will WMATA be on the hook for excess losses?

by Richard B in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 11:17 am • linkreport

The decision to divorce Metro from this standard government agency structure (not the decision to build it with two tracks, like every other non-NYC rail system in North America) is Metro's real "original sin." Metro exists as a government separate and apart from the jurisdictions it serves, accountable neither to mechanisms of government nor to mechanisms of the market.

This is not so much an original sin as it is a requirement of any regional entity that operates in three different state-level jurisdictions.

It says a lot about the shortcomings of federalism and the anachronism of state boundaries.

There are only a handful of rail transit systems that cross state lines: WMATA, PATH, Patco, and MetroLink. All are operated by interstate compact agencies. (The only other examples are mainline railroad operations.)

by Alex B. in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 11:11 am • linkreport

@Dan P.-I understand the argument that governors are too remote and detached. It's a real concern. But, it is a concern for all other government operations, not just Metro. It's basically just a classic state control vs. local control argument. The problem with local control here is that you're quickly back to a large and unmanageable board. Can you imagine if the chief executives of DC, Montgomery County, Prince George's County, Alexandria, Arlington County, Falls Church, Fairfax County, and Loudon County all got seats? And, would the states of MD and VA still get their seats since they provide funding too? How about the feds? Now we're up to 11 voting members, instead of the eight we already have. And, should these members get equal votes? Seems like the Mayor of Falls Church should have a little less pull on this stuff than the Mayor of DC, doesn't it?

I understand that state-level officials aren't the perfect solution. But, they're certainly no more remote and detached than the current board, made up of people who may not even be elected officials at all. And, they're not more remote and detached than an unelected general manager.

I understand that the federal government provides funding for Metro. But, the federal government provides funding to every single metropolitan transit system in America. And, while the feds provide special additional funds for Metro, they also do this for lots of other things in the DC Area. As far as I know, the feds don't have a seat on the board of directors of any other transit system. And, the feds don't have officials involved in the day-to-day management of MPD or DDOT, despite giving them some extra funds. Give the feds a chance to wash their hands of Metro and I suspect they'd jump at it.

You suggest that officials elected specifically to run Metro would be even more accountable. That's certainly true. But, you also suggest that doing this would conform to the current compact. This is incorrect. A major amendment of the compact (maybe this is what you mean by "under the right support from the states and DC"?) would be required to give Metro a directly-elected board of directors. And, it would raise a lot off issues. How many people? Should they have single-member districts? Should their districts be equal by population, even if they cross jurisdictional boundaries? How long are their terms? How do you deal with VA's elections in odd-numbered years, while MD and VA only have regular votes in even-numbered years?

You correctly point out that Metro is an interstate compact. But, for some reason you argue that that means it has to remain separate and apart from the jurisdictions it serves. And, you go so far as to claim there is no other legal way for Metro to be structured. That's simply not true. There are all kinds of other interstate compacts in the United States, any they're structured in a variety of ways. But, for the most part, they are accountable to the chief executives of the states that make up the compacts. This is definitely far more common than authorities with directly-elected management. Some, like the Port Authority of NY/NJ, even provide transit services.

by Jimmy in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 11:05 am • linkreport

Um, for me it isnt a question of sameness. I live in Fairlington where, well there are ten models which are replicated a hundred times over.

But, the units are well built, have lasted 80 or so years and will last at least another 80.

EYA, at least in my experience, does not build with that level of quality. Now all local developers use woodframe construction and brick facades, but EYA cuts even more corners. Walls are cheap and thin, even the shared walls between units, doors are poorly mounted, etc...

I guess it's my midwestern sensibilities or the fact that my grandfather built houses, but I couldn't imagine spending what folks around here spend for what they are getting.

by Paul M. in Scarred by urban renewal, Silver Spring's Lyttonsville neighborhood gets a second chance on Sep 26, 2016 10:59 am • linkreport

@Jimmy
Having governors be the board is the anti-thesis for creating an accountable board; the Executive branches deal with a multitude of interests across a wide spectrum, they won't be held accountable by the voters for a single issue like Metro, especially MD and VA who's voting bases are primarily not in the DC WMATA area.
Furthermore, the Federal Government gets a seat at the table in exchange for additional funding; an amendment to the structure could remove them from the board, but you loose the additional funding they provide. For better or worse the Feds are a partner which are here to stay.
The only way to have true accountability is to have a single level elected board across all three areas in the Metro Compact, in a true cross-boarder government structure. The compact would allow it, under the right support from the states and DC government.
The reason which WMATA is already a government separate and apart from which it serves is an outgrowth of its founding - as a compact between the states. There is no other way which is legally permissible for this to exist, except as a Federal agency (which the region decided against in the late 1960s).

by Dan P. in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 10:46 am • linkreport

@Jimmy - I agree on the first part of your post 100%. I'd rather see Metro board members (or maybe 50% of board members) directly elected. I think putting governors on the board would only remove additional accountability - only a small percentage of their constituents would consider Metro performance to be a voting issue.

The mayors of various jurisdictions might be effective, though.

by Ross in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 10:37 am • linkreport

@alurin-I think Evans is right that the board structure is a major part of Metro's dysfunction. But, I don't think the problem is too MUCH political accountability; it's too LITTLE. If a voter in this region is truly fed up with Metro, which of his or her elected officials should he or she hold accountable? And, by extension, which local elected officials' job security depends on improving Metro?

If it were up to me, I'd go with a three-member board made up of the Governors of MD and VA and the Mayor of DC. (The federal government could have a liaison to the board, but not a voting member.) The Governors/Mayor could delegate their functions at board meetings to the cabinet-level transportation official in their state, but no lower.

VA suburbs wouldn't like it (expect lots of grousing about "Richmond" getting involved). But, voters in each jurisdiction would have a single elected official responsible for Metro. They could air grievances to this official and hold him or her accountable. That official would also be accountable to a legislative body that would exercise oversight of his or her work. This is not a novel concept; it's how government agencies generally work. The decision to divorce Metro from this standard government agency structure (not the decision to build it with two tracks, like every other non-NYC rail system in North America) is Metro's real "original sin." Metro exists as a government separate and apart from the jurisdictions it serves, accountable neither to mechanisms of government nor to mechanisms of the market.

by Jimmy in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 10:28 am • linkreport

@Mike S

I think you're fairly spot on. I personally feel that he's right that the board is terrible and also that his idea to solve the issue is equally terrible.

by jj in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 10:21 am • linkreport

@Chris T,
Who says it's "worse than Hitler"? Except for taxi interests.

by Chester B. in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 10:07 am • linkreport

Parochial interests have helped ruin Metro. One long-time Board member represented an area where bus service was of paramount concern, and he fought like hell to kill any bus fare hike, even as financial losses mounted.

That type of thinking permeates the Board, and may have delayed or killed any hopes for a second tunnel under the Potomac, because Virginia would benefit more than Maryland. Everyone is looking out for their own jurisdiction, and few are considering the welfare of the entire system.

Non-representation may not be the answer (I don't think it is), but this is certainly a discussion worth having, if only to spotlight the selfish parochialism. (BTW, federal taxpayers paid the lion's share of building the system in the first place. )

by Mike S. in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 10:00 am • linkreport

Could you imagine the CEO and board of Pepsi deciding that providing diet soda is just not cost effective, so they'd finance a PR campaign to suggest that people drink diet coke instead?

Some airlines, both in the U.S and abroad, codeshare (i.e. place a flight number and sell tickets) on bus/train services to markets that are not viable to be flown. In other cases, airlines have simply abandoned airports and told consumers to simply drive to a larger airport some distance away. In other industries, it's not uncommon for companies to walk away from markets where they simply cannot make money.

Mass-transit has its role to play, but there are places (and times) where it simply will not work. The losses incurred will simply be too large to justify.

by ArlingtonFlyer in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 9:58 am • linkreport

Ride sharing as more cost efficient for whom? The transit agency, whose costs would then be ZERO? Or the traveler whose costs just quadrupled (optimistically) over that of the bus fare? I can't believe this is a serious discussion in so many cities across the country. If this was such an appealing solution to public transit needs, then why haven't we been bolstering our taxi industries to provide these services all these years? And the whiplash between uber being hailed as the great answer one minute, and being demonized as worse than Hitler the next, is making my head spin.

by Chris T in Breakfast links: Fire alarm on Sep 26, 2016 9:57 am • linkreport

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