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Breakfast links: Who's for transit?


Photo by afagen on Flickr.
Obama stiffs WMATA: President Obama's budget cuts $15 million in WMATA repair money. DC, Maryland and Virginia match this funding, so this could mean $30 million less in repairs to track signals or escalators. (Post)

Republicans for transit: Six Republican Congress­men from New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio support restoring transit funding in the transportation bill. Several also plan to vote against the bill in its current form. (Streetsblog)

Bethesda second entrance lives: A Montgomery County Council committee voted to restore funding for the Bethesda Metro second entrance, delaying it just one year instead of indefinitely as in County Executive Leggett's budget. Roger Berliner and Hans Riemer voted for the change, while Nancy Floreen abstained. (Post, Examiner)

From vacant lot to trendy market: A shipping container market and event space is slated for the vacant lots north of Nationals Park. The market, replacing The Bullpen and Das Bullpen, will be modeled after Brooklyn's Dekalb Market. (JDLand)

Will Trump Post Office fail?: Why did GSA choose Donald Trump to redevelop the Old Post Office? Steven Pearlstein says Trump's numbers don't add up and the project is headed for a bankruptcy like several prior Trump projects. (Post)

Property rights on the ballot: Restrictions on eminent domain will be on Virginia's November ballot after a Senate vote on an amendment to the state's constitution. The change would cost the state $36 million a year, or maybe much more. (Post)

Arts fade downtown: Zoning regulations require arts spaces downtown, but many galleries have been priced out, and those that remain are not very accessible or visible. But the zoning has helped a lively theater scene thrive downtown. (Post)

How WMATA uses contractors: WMATA is spending $51.9 million on contractors, to do work from escalator analyses to SmarTrip evaluations. This may sound like a lot, but actually isn't that much compared to other agencies. (Examiner, City Paper)

And...: A number of Fenty backers are lining up behind Muriel Bowser to run for mayor in 2014. (Georgetown Dish) ... Are some DC museums too big? (DC Internationalist) ... Designers think up creative ways to "fix" the cul-de-sac. (New York Magazine)

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David Edmondson is a transportation and urban affairs enthusiast living in Mount Vernon Square. He blogs about Marin County, California, at The Greater Marin

Comments

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President Obama to Orange line commuters: drop dead.

Of course, it won't really hurt him much. Tim Kaine, though?

by charlie on Feb 14, 2012 8:14 am • linkreport

President Obama's budget cuts $15 million in WMATA repair money.

Yes, and it also provides $108 billion to transit over the 6-year authorization. That compares to $58 billion over the past 6 years (not including ARRA).

I think WMATA would gladly trade $15 million (or $30 million if MD/VA/DC reduce their match) for an average increase of $265 million a year in formula funds.

People need to quit screaming about WMATA losing a tiny amount of money (0.75% of total operating/capital budgets) and tell the real positive story which is that the administration wants to MASSIVELY increase support for transit.

by MLD on Feb 14, 2012 8:25 am • linkreport

All this grief over a proposed budget that will never see a vote. FY13 will be another year under a CR, it the safest assumption in DC.

by RJ on Feb 14, 2012 8:49 am • linkreport

A better question would be why we continue to treat WMATA as a special exception. They get their regular FTA formula funding, PLUS this addition dispensation, plus the fact that they can have a tremendously skewed time/distance bsaed pricing system on their premium system (Metrorail) because so many people are completely subsidized.

by JA on Feb 14, 2012 8:51 am • linkreport

JA: They should get special federal funding because they transport federal employees. In other jurisdictions, large employers are taxed, and some of that tax revenue ends up going, directly or indirectly, to transit which the employer benefits from. Here, the federal government does not pay any taxes, but gets the mobility benefit. Therefore, they should be contributing special operating dollars as well as special capital dollars to Metro.

by David Alpert on Feb 14, 2012 8:56 am • linkreport

@MLD; good point, but somehow I suspect we'll see the cuts and won't see a transit increase.

@DAlpert; if the federal concern was employees, the several hundred million being paid directly to federal employees to ride for free would seem to be sufficient.

by charlie on Feb 14, 2012 9:53 am • linkreport

David,

They should get special federal funding because they ransport federal employees.

I honestly don't buy that. 80% of the federal employees are outside the DC area. The Denver metro has 40,000 federal employees. Do you believe that RTD-Denver should be subsidized because of this? The fedearl employment here (and in Denver!) provides a very strong employment and overall tax base that has plenty of effects, not to mention the private sector base that has been attracted by the government.

I'm all for transit, but the extra federal subsidy over and beyond the standard formula allotment keeps this area from making a commitment to set up the same, regional dedicated funding source for transit that other metro areas have done.

Arguing that the wealthiest overall metro area in this country is somehow unable to set up a regional funding mechanism for transit (which is NOT due to lack of funding, but a local governance issue) is ridiculous. This area is not a special snowflake.

by JA on Feb 14, 2012 9:54 am • linkreport

So, what's the benefit of having art galleries or, for that matter, studio space downtown? The NPG and NGA are already there and not leaving, having a lot of small private galleries takes up space that would be better used for housing or restaurants.

by Steve S. on Feb 14, 2012 9:56 am • linkreport

The federal government paid for 90% of the construction of Metro and yet it seems people want to suck on their teat a bit more.

by TGEoA on Feb 14, 2012 9:58 am • linkreport

JA: Denver's transit system only transports a very small fraction of federal employees compared to the number DC's transports. Also, federal employees make up a far, far smaller percentage of the riders on the Denver system. Plus, more federal offices outside DC are in commercial buildings which pay taxes.

The feds do provide some transit money to all systems by formula, and so you could easily say that more than covers the federal employee impact on all systems. But the federal impact on the DC region is orders of magnitude higher, and so they should provide more to DC region transit in particular as a result.

In other words, if the government took all the money it spends on transit and allocated it to systems based on the numbers of federal employees each carries, WMATA and other local transit systems would get tons more money and everyone else would get far less. I'm not suggesting that, but it's totally warranted for WMATA to get a special appropriation.

by David Alpert on Feb 14, 2012 10:00 am • linkreport

TGEoA: Much of that money was highway dollars the local governments flexed to transit, and other areas could have done the same. But just because federal money was involved in construction doesn't mean the federal impact or costs involved with the federal presence have ended. Besides, the federal government paid 90% of interstate highway construction and continues to massively fund highway maintenance.

by David Alpert on Feb 14, 2012 10:02 am • linkreport

Bo Blair was probably making a pretty decent amount of money running Das Bullpen as an outdoor frat party on game days. Good for him for wanting to nonetheless innovate and bring some more life to the ballpark district.

by TM on Feb 14, 2012 10:04 am • linkreport

@DAl, good stuff man!

by HogWash on Feb 14, 2012 11:16 am • linkreport

Obama's 'budget' will never be passed...but it is FALSE to claim there will be less money for repairs. METRO needs to cut union jobs that's what is killing the system. The METRO police are worthless as has been pointed out by dozens of GGW users. The filth and food wrappers are evidence of such by themselves. No rules are enforced. WMATA can cut and she be forced to do so. They are inept. They can't even get closings right on weekends..no signs to warn passengers who happen not to be from DC or know of website postings. Nothing. Though the Obama budget is little more than an election-year farce...METRO could do more with less with good management.

by Pelham1861 on Feb 15, 2012 7:36 am • linkreport

Actually, I abstained from the vote on the second entrance until we show our equal funding commitment to the trail along the Purple Line, which is not yet in anyone's budget, but a county obligation.

by Nancy Floreen on Feb 16, 2012 9:19 am • linkreport

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