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Where's Bob? McDonnell MIA on Metro funding

Congressional Republicans are trying to take away the federal contribution to fixing Metro's safety problems. While he's clamoring for a seat on the WMATA Board, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is staying silent slow to speak up equivocating on this crucial need, as is Republican Rep. Frank Wolf.

Photo by Si1very on Flickr.

Soon, the Senate Finance Committee will consider HB2000, which mandates that one of the two voting seats on the WMATA Board go to the governor's designee to NVTC. Right now that's Thelma Drake, former Congresswoman from Norfolk.

If the bill passes, the WMATA Board will get a member who doesn't live in the area and certainly doesn't ride Metro on a regular basis. Still, there is some sense in having the Governor of Virginia involved as a more serious stakeholder. Unfortunately, so far McDonnell has not shown much interest in actually helping improve Metro and other transit in Virginia.

He hasn't been lobbying his own party to keep the $150 million federal match, which if cut would also mean losing the $50 million from each of Virginia, Maryland, and DC. Or maybe McDonnell would just as soon redirect that money to roads?

Update: Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton told TBD yesterday that they would be sending a letter to Republican leaders "asking them to reconsider proposed cuts to Metro's capital improvement plan."

Update 2: TBD followed up, and McDonnell's office said they still haven't sent any letter, and that he's "concerned about the unsustainable rate of spending in Washington DC."

He sold his transportation plan as "the best opportunity to build roads," and has devoted only 11.5% of billions in borrowing to transit projects, which are mostly projects already underway anyway, like the Silver Line. He declined to even promise that Virginia would keep up its end of the federal-state capital funding agreement, keeping its $50 million coming as long as the feds deliver on their 150.

The Senate should think very hard before giving more power over Metro to officials in and from Richmond who have continually shown little to no interest in Metro.

Also, where's Frank? Rep. Frank Wolf's district contains much of the Silver Line in western Fairfax and Loudoun counties. He seem to have a lot of energy to ask for audits of the project's progress, but also declined to sign on to Gerry Connolly's amendment, even though he supported the funding in 1999.

Republican Tom Davis, Gerry Connolly's predecessor, was a primary driving force behind creating this deal in the first place. He was a much more moderate Republican than the House leadership today, but McDonnell is portraying himself as something other than an ideologue as well. Why are McDonnell and Wolf staying silent as the House GOP threatens to cripple Metro?

The Senate Finance Committee just "passed by for the day" HB2000, as well as HB1999, the terrible Bob Chase-backed bill to mandate that all transportation funding put highway widenings above all. However, if you live in Virginia, the Senators need your urging to defeat both bills. Email them now to ask them to defeat both HB2000 and HB1999.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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Good god thank you for this post. McDonnell needs to hear from Northern Virginia on this one.

by Steve D on Feb 16, 2011 10:21 am • linkreport

You can contact the governor at (804) 786-2211

or at

by EJ on Feb 16, 2011 10:25 am • linkreport

I just sent a letter to the governor.

This whole thing is ridiculous.

by yatesc on Feb 16, 2011 10:39 am • linkreport

I've said this numerous times before, but putting somebody from Norfolk in a transit-related position is insanity. The HRT (Norfolk's bus system) makes Metrobus look like a shining pinnacle of efficiency and comfort by comparison.

After taking that system to work for about a month, I concluded that the routes are laid out solely as a means of assaulting and inconveniencing the poor. I eventually gave up, took out a loan, and bought a car out of frustration. (And this was the summer when gas was $4+ a gallon).

On numerous occasions, our bus driver would pull over next to a burger king, the driver would turn the engine (and AC) off, go into the burger king, sit down, eat breakfast, and re-board the bus 15 minutes later. There was no discernible timetable, connections were not conveniently timed, and no-shows were common.

It is without hesitation the worst transit system I have ever witnessed.

by andrew on Feb 16, 2011 10:58 am • linkreport

"Why are McDonnell and Wolf staying silent as the House GOP threatens to cripple Metro?"

Because it's not good politics for Republicans to advocate spending money.

Because they don't view transit users as influential parts of their constituencies.

In McDonnell's case, because he doesn't view Northern Virginia as a crucial part of his constituency.

Because no matter what the practical consequences, it is beneficial to them to be perceived as cutting spending.

Because neither believes that they currently are in the last office they'll ever hold, and they believe this stance will benefit them down the road.

Because they believe transit users are disproportionately democrats who are unlikely to vote for them anyway.

Because they believe the money can be redirected to roads, which will benefit more of their core constituencies.

All of the above.
All of the above.

by dcd on Feb 16, 2011 10:59 am • linkreport

David...on the one side, you're blasting McDonnell for being silent while the Republicans work to take away $150 million for Metro's capital budget. Yet at the same time, this morning's Breakfast Links includes a piece from TBD where Connaughton told TBD that "McDonnell (R) is sending a letter to Republican leaders in Congress, asking them to reconsider proposed cuts to Metro’s capital improvement plan."

Which means one of you is wrong. Either Connaughton is lying, or you're pushing an inaccuracy.

by Froggie on Feb 16, 2011 11:02 am • linkreport

Let's get some perspective here. Didn't Virginia just pay three billion dollars to Metro - almost as much, all by itself, as the four billion dollars that Virginia just allocated to repair ALL of Virginia's transportation infrastructure for the next THREE YEARS??? Metro is one unbelievably expensive rail system, and with the recent 1 billion dollar cost overrun in the Dulles Rail Phase 2 debacle (about a 35% overrun!!!), and the recent attempted ripoff by Metro, involving a substantial jacking up of the price for the rail cars for that Dulles line, the Commonwealth of Virginia would like to make sure that Metro isn't perhaps somebody else's cash cow.

First we were told that hey, the Washington metropolitan area NEEDED a rail line to Dulles Airport... and now that the financial games are collapsing, we are told "Oh, well travelers aren't going to take this rail line, only airport employees will really use it, so let's save money and not go all the way to the airport terminal with it."

We should have saved a LOT more money, and not built the Dulles Metro extension at all! Billions of dollars for a glitzy rail line, when the airport employees could have taken a bus? And it's mostly above-ground rail, at tunnel prices. It's a ripoff! Worse yet, the bloated Dulles Corridor costs out here, mostly hiked by the Dulles extension of Metro, are causing bus lines to be discontinued, not expanded! It's costing a lot of money, and it's making things worse.

How many billion dollars are such deceptions going to cost us? This is why Virginia wants to get more representation - Virginia is paying 1/3 of the cost of this nightmare system.

Unfortunately, one can only hope that intervention by Virginia will actually improve anything. But what's happening now, certainly isn't working too well.

by Bob Bruhns on Feb 16, 2011 11:40 am • linkreport

Darn, no the 3 billion dollars was paid to MWAA - for many things, including Metro. But I'll tell you this - Metro is a huge part of that, and the Dulles extension is a huge part of it too. Three billion dollars... why -shouldn't- Virginia get more representation at the somewhat less than competent, and very much less than transparent MWAA?

by Bob Bruhns on Feb 16, 2011 11:45 am • linkreport

@Bob Bruhns:
The topic on the table is not giving Virginia more representation. It's taking representatives from Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax and giving them to the governor to assign as he sees fit.

So it's possible that instead of a great transit-riding, dedicated, local board member like Chris Zimmerman (who just retired) Virgina's WMATA representatives could be people from Roanoke and Danville and Bristol who've never even been on a bus and only visit the Washington region once or twice a year.

by Matt Johnson on Feb 16, 2011 11:50 am • linkreport

How much does Virginia pay into WMATA bus subsidies -- very little.

I doubt very much the Virginia "rep" would be from Danville. Probably a local Republican -- and if the democrats took over it would be a local Democrat.

Yes, the 4 billion is going mostly to roads. IS there another major transit project in Northern Virginia looking for state funding? I think not.

by charlie on Feb 16, 2011 12:00 pm • linkreport

Can anybody share a form letter to send to the governor? Sorry, I am busy and stuff....

by Jasper on Feb 16, 2011 12:09 pm • linkreport

@Jaspar, it's a five minute call and just say politely "I walked to thank the governor for supporting continuing funding of WMATA and his letter to fellow republicans."

juust taalk reeal sloow --- it is richmond and all that. How is your drawl?

And say ma'am to the secretary.

by charlie on Feb 16, 2011 12:15 pm • linkreport

"Update" and not "Correction"? pfft. Just swallow the pill, it would be good for you.

by Lou on Feb 16, 2011 12:17 pm • linkreport

It's great to contact the governor, but the more important action is to ask the Senate to turn down HB 2000 and not give him the seat on the Board (and also to turn down HB1999).

by David Alpert on Feb 16, 2011 12:18 pm • linkreport

Funny, I thought the Democrats were still in charge of the Virginia senate.

Maybe you should retitle the post "Ask Dick Saslow and the DPV not to take away NOVA seats from WMATA"

by charlie on Feb 16, 2011 12:24 pm • linkreport

@charlie: out of $365.5m subsidizing WMATA bus service, local Virginia jurisdictions are providing $84.9m, or about 23%. So it's not "very little" unless you consider a subsidy approximately equal to this year's projected budget gap little.

In fact, local Virginia jurisdictions' subsidy of WMATA bus service is more than double their subsidy of rail service, and that doesn't even factor in the amount they spend subsidizing local bus services like CUE, ART, DASH, Fairfax Connector.

by Michael Perkins on Feb 16, 2011 12:56 pm • linkreport

@perkins; OK, I was thinking more in the 10-15% range. I know PG County and DC do the heavy lifting there -- and I thought it was strange DA picked on "Danville" and "bus riders".

Local bus service, however, isn't covered by WMATA. NVTC funds part of it? I really don't know where they are getting the money.

And so it not relevant to Virginia getting a board seat on WMATA.

by charlie on Feb 16, 2011 1:07 pm • linkreport

@Bob Bruhns--

Virginia's contribution to MWAA should be moderately higher than Maryland's because, well, Virgina has the airports. Further, VA gets 5 seats on the board, with DC, MD, and the Feds less (2 or 3, I think).

Plus, the Dulles rail extension is being constructed by MWAA if my memory serves correctly, NOT WMATA. (WMATA will operate the line.) Cost overruns should be their responsibility.

Honestly, rail is expensive. It's even more expensive when things break down. But it's worth it. The two words that should be on everybody's mouth are: dedicated funding! Metro needs a sales or gas tax source of operating revenue from the jurisdictions.

I don't like paying taxes just to throw money down the WMATA hole, and apparently my MD state representatives agree. In fact, O'Malley hasn't been too supportive, on the theory the state might want those tax dollars for itself at some point.

But the bottom line is WMATA needs the dedicated money and it's the right thing to do. Five of the top ten riches counties in the whole country are in the immediate region (and others in the top 25 have familiar names). I honestly hope Montgomery and Maryland (my jurisdictions) step up first, and I intent to vote and donate money consistent with that belief. But if the region can't get it done, what hope is there for the rest of the country?

by WRD on Feb 16, 2011 1:09 pm • linkreport

@ WRD; um, yep. Virginia has a dedicated gas tax for that sort of thing.

MWAA funding does not include the rail to the airport, ironically.

And O'Malley is as bad as McDonnell in terms of WMATA. Probably worse.

by charlie on Feb 16, 2011 1:13 pm • linkreport

Just so you, know, I'm the one who mentioned Danville. Not David Alpert. We're not the same person, just FYI.

by Matt Johnson on Feb 16, 2011 1:25 pm • linkreport

@ Charlie--

Dedicated for MWAA yes. For WMATA? I though not...

by wrd on Feb 16, 2011 1:26 pm • linkreport

@Matt; I am convinced you, Matt, Erik and Lance are all expressions of the same hive-mind.

@WRD; NVTC get the dedicated gas tax. Spent on WMATA. About 25 million a year, I think.

I really love it when Maryland people complain about Virginia.

by charlie on Feb 16, 2011 1:39 pm • linkreport

I'm not complaining about Virginia. I'm concerned about a move that Virginia's governor is trying to make that would take control of Virginia's WMATA board seats from local officials in Northern Virginia and give them to whichever political appointee he thinks is best, regardless of interest in transit or the interests of Northern Virginia.

And that affects me not as a Marylander, but as a WMATA rider. Especially considering the jurisdictional veto.

by Matt Johnson on Feb 16, 2011 1:46 pm • linkreport

@Matt Johnson;

1. You fear is entirely based on partisan affiliation. If Warner (or heaven forbid, Kaine) was appointing a rep people would squeak less.*

2. Current board, as GGW has documented, has failed in almost every metric of leadership. Being buddy-buddy with bloggers is not leadership.

3. I didn't see the same howls when the feds added a board member.

The arguments I've seen are not convincing me of McDonnell's basic point: the Commonwealth is paying more and wants a seat at the table. Given that this is same structure as Maryland, I don't see this as a major issue.

* as a democrat I disklike McDonnel. As a Virginia, I think he a pompous fake typical of NoVA. I don't like his plan for issuing more debt. I don't trust him and don't like him. However, only a policy side what he is doing here is not so objectionable.

by charlie on Feb 16, 2011 1:57 pm • linkreport

Matt, as a Marylander, isn't it true that your governor gets to appoint two people to the WMATA board?

by Lou on Feb 16, 2011 2:10 pm • linkreport

1. I don't fear this based on partisan affiliation. I'm opposed to any governor taking these seats away from Northern Virginia. Not all Democrats are angels. Where I come from (Georgia) we have a long history of Democratic governors who have been horrible toward our urban areas.

2. The current board has not done a stellar job, no. But some at least one of the best members in generations was a board member from Virginia: Chris Zimmerman. Just because the current board has not been particularly successful does not mean that a governor's appointee would do better. Especially if that appointee is from outside the region and does not ride WMATA or transit regularly.

3. I was opposed to the federal government adding board members without the prerequisite for dedicated funding. I remain opposed to them. If the federal government stops their commitment, I believe the federal board members should be kicked off.

4. The structure is not the same in Maryland as it is in Virginia. In Maryland, the state pays the entire contribution from Prince George's and Montgomery counties. It has not always been like this, but it was done as a compromise back in the mid-1990s. As a result, the governor gets to pick Metro Board appointees, but he's writing the checks. The appointees are, however, from Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

by Matt Johnson on Feb 16, 2011 2:14 pm • linkreport

And just to clarify, Maryland is not just making the occasional contribution and getting seats in return. Maryland is on the hook for the amount of subsidy for Prince George's and Montgomery based on the WMATA funding formula.

by Matt Johnson on Feb 16, 2011 2:16 pm • linkreport

@MattJohnson; you are doing an excellent job of making McDonnel's case.

1. They aren't asking for all the seat like in Maryland.
2. You may be opposed to the federal seats -- but they are a reality, you can't kick them off, and if they get them, why doesn't the Commonweath.
3. Do you really think McDonnel is going to give this to Drake (failed Congresswoman) or someone from outside the region. No: from a polticial standpoint, he is gong to give it to a republican from NoVA he wants to be buddy-buddy with.
4. Zimmerman was the biggest problem with the past board. Micromanager. At least he talks about consumers as a interest group, but he refused to take on the union and corporate culture. A republican might.
5. The simple solution you propose is the state nominee live inside the NVTC area.

by charlie on Feb 16, 2011 2:28 pm • linkreport

charlie: On #3, it would be Drake. The reason is that in Virginia, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission makes the appointments, from among their number. The head of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation serves as the Governor's representative. The head of DRPT is Thelma Drake.

Therefore, as bill HB2000 is written, Thelma Drake would become a voting member. McDonnell would not have the authority to appoint a different person.

He could have asked for changes to the bill, but didn't.

by David Alpert on Feb 16, 2011 3:27 pm • linkreport

So is Drake from Roanoke, Danville, or Bristol? Which one? And has she in fact ever been on a bus?

by Lou on Feb 16, 2011 3:32 pm • linkreport

I find it very interesting that you chose NOT to identify Thelma Drake by her current job title.

Secretary of the (VA) Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT).
DRPT are the folks who fund VRE and all other transit (bus, rail, whatever) projects for the Commonwealth.

It seems entirely sensible that the Secretary for DRPT, a Virginia Cabinet officer, would be the representative for the state to the WMATA Board. She is the person who puts together the transit-related funding request in the Governor's budget proposal to the VA General Assembly. Having the DRPT head on the WMATA board maximises the chances of getting funds from Richmond for WMATA.

by anonymous coward on Feb 16, 2011 3:57 pm • linkreport

@Alpert; it says designee.

by Charlie on Feb 16, 2011 4:03 pm • linkreport

Charlie: Read the rest of that paragraph. "Any appointed member of ... the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission ... is authorized to serve as a member of the board of directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority."

Drake is the Secretary of Transportation's designee on NVTC. That last sentence says that this particular NVTC member, the Secretary of Transportation's designee on NVTC, must be chosen as one of the voting members.

by David Alpert on Feb 16, 2011 4:07 pm • linkreport

To answer Lou's question, Thelma Drake is from Virginia Beach.

by Froggie on Feb 16, 2011 4:18 pm • linkreport


4. Zimmerman was the biggest problem with the past board. Micromanager. At least he talks about consumers as a interest group, but he refused to take on the union and corporate culture.


The only sad thing about Zimmerman leaving is now he has more time on his hands to screw up Arlington.

by TGEoA on Feb 16, 2011 4:20 pm • linkreport

@Alpert; ok I'm treading this from my phone and I'm getting a bit lost. I'll double check it from home later

by Charlie on Feb 16, 2011 5:17 pm • linkreport

@Alpert; OK.

For those interested:


A)1. In the case of the NVTC, such Commission shall also include one member appointed by the Governor, who shall be both (i) a resident of a county, city, or town within the Northern Virginia Transportation District and (ii) a person who has significant experience, separate from any experience in government, in mass transit planning, finance, engineering, construction, or management.

a2. CTC head is ex officio member of NVTC

b. In appointing Virginia’s voting member to the board of directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the NVTC shall appoint one of the persons appointed to the NVTC by the Governor pursuant to subsection A, and the other person appointed by the Governor shall be the alternate. Any other appointed member of a commission of a transportation district, commonly known as the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, which was established prior to July 1, 1986, and which includes jurisdictions located within the Washington, D.C., metropolitan statistical area, is also authorized to serve as a an additional member of the board of directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Chapter 627 of the Acts of Assembly of 1958 as amended), provided such person has significant experience, separate from any experience in government, in mass transit planning, finance, engineering, construction, or management, and while so serving, the provisions of § 2.2-2800 shall not apply to such member.

I read three things from this:

1. The Gov. shall appoint new members of the NVTC -- if that person lives in NoVa and has mass transit experience
2. CTC head is ex officio member is as noted is in charge of all transit in VA
3. Is the requirement for mass transit experience for other WMATA VA members something new as well?

by charlie on Feb 17, 2011 8:40 am • linkreport

That's the original version. It was substituted in committee.

This page shows the legislative history. The one you are looking at is the Prefiled and Ordered Printed version. But it was substituted in the House Appropriations Committee on 2/2 and the full House picked the substitute over the original on 2/7.

by David Alpert on Feb 17, 2011 8:45 am • linkreport

Well, I always enjoy getting a smackdown in the AM. More coffee needed....

Not to belabor this to long, but even in the version you posted:

1. chairman of the CTB is ex officio member of NVTC
2. Has the right to appoint ANY designee (currently drake)
3. and that designee shall be on the WMATA board

Presumably the governor can appoint a new designee to sit in for the CTB chair on NVTC after this bill is passed.

Again, to loop back: This is a great position for the gov, a great chance to cultivate Republicans in NoVa, and I don't see him blowing it on drake.

by charlie on Feb 17, 2011 8:58 am • linkreport

I agree, he can put someone else on NVTC in place of Drake. But generally it's the DRPT head, and in pushing for this, they were talking about how it would be good to have DRPT involvement. So I still think he will keep Drake.

by David Alpert on Feb 17, 2011 9:12 am • linkreport

My inner lawyer is coming out today. Sorry.

Yes, it was GENERALLY the DRPT head because that was under the old rule set. WMATA board member is different, and on a practical level, a lot more work. So past results do not translate into future behavior...

But as someone posted above, head of DRPT does handle the transit money in Virginia. So it not as if it is Matt's bus-hater from Danville.....

Tom Davis, for what it is worth, isn't "staying silent" either. He is saying the Governor should have a board seat on WMATA.

by charlie on Feb 17, 2011 9:18 am • linkreport

FYI as you ponder Thelma Drake and WMATA VA:

H.R. 1782:
To direct the Secretary of Transportation to waive the repayment of any Federal-aid highway funds...

Rep. Thelma Drake [R-VA2](no cosponsors)

Directs the Secretary of Transportation to allow the commonwealth of Virginia to remove the high occupancy vehicle designation for one or more of Interstate Routes I-64, I-264, and I-564 in the Hampton Roads area. Requires the Secretary to waive the repayment of federal highway funds expended by the commonwealth of Virginia on the construction of any high occupancy lane or auxiliary lane on such routes due to the removal of the high occupancy designation on such lane.

This bill never became law

by Julie on Feb 17, 2011 10:13 am • linkreport

Thelma Drake is a very odd choice to lead that agency given her history of opposition to mass transit and HOV, etc.

However, I do have a Devil's Advocate question about WAMATA and that is - WHO should pay for it and why?

Why should WAMATA require the guy who lives in Norton, Va to fund it instead of the people who ride it?

by LarryG on Feb 17, 2011 1:10 pm • linkreport

LarryG: The guy who lives in Norton, VA is probably not paying for WMATA. In general, more tax money goes to his area than his area pays in taxes. Therefore, the state might be paying for WMATA, but he's not; WMATA riders are paying for

The people who live in Northern Virginia are paying for Metro. Riders pay in fares, plus they also pay some of the taxes that go to the system as well as to roads they may or may not use. However, someone who drives is also benefiting from Metro, because many people are not on the roads creating traffic because those people are on Metro.

by David Alpert on Feb 17, 2011 1:22 pm • linkreport

So all of METRO's funding comes only from the Greater Washington Area and not from the State or Fed taxpayers?

I think that's part of the reason why the govt wants a seat and of course the amount of money needed to operated it but again.. who has to provide that money.

If METRO only receives funding from the METRO area then that's a different thing than expecting funding from outside the area - which does mean - other taxpayers who don't use METRO.

It's not just METRO. Many taxpayers in RoVa (rest of Va) are opposed to gas tax increases also because they believe they won't get back what they pay into it and it will go to Richmond to be "re-distributed".

We don't want to balkanize transportation funding but right now the METRO budget an it's sources of funding are murky and there seems to be an advocacy that the State and Feds need to step up to fund metro.

set me straight.

by LarryG on Feb 17, 2011 1:39 pm • linkreport

The feds have representation, because they did agree to fund. But now they're threatening to pull back.

They are only funding capital, not operating. They need to be funding because they are benefiting from the system. In NYC, big employers pay property taxes on their buildings, and some of that money helps pay for all kinds of transportation and infrastructure. Here, the feds don't pay any of that.

by David Alpert on Feb 17, 2011 1:41 pm • linkreport

Is there a link to METRO's operating budget?

by LarryG on Feb 17, 2011 1:56 pm • linkreport

Metro budgets can be found on this page:

by MLD on Feb 17, 2011 2:20 pm • linkreport

thanks for the link! Here is what I was looking for:

" The Authority's operations are funded primarily by farebox revenues from passengers and operating subsidy
payments from participating jurisdictions. In establishing its budget each year, the Authority makes an
estimate of the revenues it expects to receive from operation of the system based on the current or
projected fare schedule and ridership. The majority of the balance of the Authority's operating budget is
provided through operating subsidy payments from the participating jurisdictions." page 36

so... the $150 Federal "match" that is at risk is for capital for expansion ?

I thought they already received a billion to expand the Silver Line?

by LarryG on Feb 17, 2011 3:11 pm • linkreport

"Many taxpayers in RoVa (rest of Va) are opposed to gas tax increases also because they believe they won't get back what they pay into it and it will go to Richmond to be "re-distributed"."

Of course they believe that. Because what they don't understand is that the vast bulk of "RoVa" is a net tax recipient, not a net tax donar. If anything, it should be the NoVA and Hampton Roads area taxpayers opposing a gas tax increase...because THEY'RE the areas that'll be paying more than they'll get back.

"so... the $150 Federal "match" that is at risk is for capital for expansion"

Capital for procurement/reconstruction/replacement, not for expansion. This is completely separate from the money for the Silver Line.

by Froggie on Feb 17, 2011 4:00 pm • linkreport

@Froggie; not entirely sure about that.

You could make the argument on OTHER taxes, but in terms of the Virginia gas tax isn't there an allocation formula to make sure a large part of it goes back to NoVa. I know that was suspended because of funding issue, but what percent of VDOT's budget is being spent here.

None of that is argument against a gas tax increase, which needs to go up in Virginia.

Besides, doesn't everyone in Arlington bike and not pay gas tax? I do!

by charlie on Feb 17, 2011 4:54 pm • linkreport

@Charlie & Froggie--

Perhaps the best way to address this is (1) Make the gasoline tax ad valorem or adjust it for inflation and (2) increase the gasoline tax in Compact jurisdictions only and remit that additional money to WMATA.

by WRD on Feb 17, 2011 5:27 pm • linkreport

well in terms of opposing taxes, NoVa have opposed them even for their own region and so has Hampton Roads.

The chances of getting a statewide gas tax to fund NoVa projects is somewhere south of ZERO especially when Rova sees the billion for Metro, 600 million for Springfield and 2 billion for the WW Bridge.

You'd be squeezing blood from a stone anyhow since the urban areas of Va NoVa, Hampton, Richmond, Cville, Roanoke, Lynchburg probably have 70% of the population and if you think RoVa is not interested in funding NoVa roads/transit, those other urban areas are even less inclined.

The question is - are the people of NoVa willing to fund their transportation and transit needs or are they going to continue to wish folks from outside of NoVa to fund their needs?

You know the funny thing here is that all these other urban areas in Va are hoping for the same thing - that the "state" will fund their transportation and transit needs.

At some point - "we" - all regions in the State need to face up to the reality that the "state" nor the Feds are going to fund our needs any more.

The Fed Trust Fund is broke. They're actually funding it from General Revenues now and there are both Republicans and Democrats that think that approach is unsustainable.

I'd like to see the creation of an infrastructure bank for localities and regions to be able to access loans - but they need to be paid back.

If NoVa legislators had the wide support of people in NoVa to go to Richmond to ask for a regional dedicated Metro funding source - that did not require any money from any other regions in Va - it probably would have a good chance of passing but without wide and strong support from NoVa citizens - it won't fly.

Does anyone have a view about what the 2002 Referenda shoul have proposed - to pass?

If the 2002 Referenda had been a proposal to create a dedicated regional tax for Metro would it have passed?

by LarryG on Feb 17, 2011 5:37 pm • linkreport

Wasting money hand over fist certainly isn't going to help Metro's abysmal maintenance. Maintenance is the first thing to be cut when money is short, and money is short for many reasons, first among which is the mind-bendingly wasteful spending that characterizes the whole Metro operation. If local people have done such a horrible job with Metro, I'm not sure that people from farther south in Virginia, who paid for this DC area Metro nonsense to the tune of three billion dollars as I stated before, would be any worse.

Didn't WMATA need help? Didn't the federal government get four WMATA board seats for it's contribution? So why shouldn't Virginia get seats for its contribution? Should we have taxation without representation? If WMATA and northern Virginia have everything under control, then hey, give the money back. Of course, that's not going to happen, though.

Since it pays into this mess, why shouldn't Virginia have representation to make sure that the money it gave isn't being wasted, and that it is in fact going for needed maintenance, and that work isn't being bloated in price, etc?

by Bob Bruhns on Feb 17, 2011 7:23 pm • linkreport

Bob: What mind-blowingly wasteful spending? Do you actually have any info on spending Metro has made that is more wasteful than most private or public organizations of its kind? Or did you just get a general sense from years of nitpicking by the Post that something must be wasteful?

by David Alpert on Feb 17, 2011 7:28 pm • linkreport

First I want to acknowledge that I was mistaken back then about MWAA getting Billions from from Virginia. It was WMATA that got that multi-Billion pledge from Virginia, and it involved periodic partial payments that we have occasionally seen, over the course of years.

As for the mind-blowingly waasteful spending, the ever-ballooning estimates for the Dulles Rail / Silver Line suggest that somebody decided to jack up their charges. A fine example: the price of the parking garages.

Five parking garages and one rail station from Phase 2 dumped onto Loudoun County and Fairfax County to hide their cost:

July 3, 2011 per FTA: $318 million (first leak to public)

March 6, 2012 per MWAA: $404 million

That's not inflation - that's a skyrocket ride! But Phase 1 was even worse.

Wiehle Ave parking garage (Phase 1):

August 20, 2007 - per FTA - $26 million

February 1, 2008 - per FTA - $47.6 million

February 21, 2011 - per Reston Patch - $87 million

June 26, 2012 - per Fairfax County - $90 million

September 25, 2012 - per Fairfax County - $121.4 million

For the story of the Dulles Rail / Silver line double price, here is a link:

The excessive pricing of the Dulles Rail - Silver Line Metrorail project

by Bob Bruhns on Aug 11, 2013 12:24 pm • linkreport

Meanwhile, the Herndon Metro parking garage estimate from MWAA is up to $41,539 per space now. Even Fairfax County says that this estimate is high! For some perspective on this, nearby Herndon Virginia believes that it can build a parking garage serving its downtown for $15,000 per space.

Take a look on page 9 of this very surprisingly unreported Fairfax County document:

May 7, 2013 Fairfax County BOS Transportation Committee Dulles Rail Status Report
"Herndon-Monroe Garage: $80,959,000 per 100% P/E and consistent with MWAA documents; County believes costs will be lower and in the process of a feasibility study"

It's amazing how that garage cost estimate ballooned. The FTA estimate from July 2011 was $51,400,000 for 1949 spaces. That's $26,372 per space.

See page 4 of this document (page 5 of the pdf):

July 3, 2011 FTA Dulles Rail White Paper from Washington Post

July 3, 2011 FTA Dulles Rail White Paper from WAMU

So the estimate was already very high at $26,372 per space in July 2011, and then it further ballooned to $41,539 per space by May 2013. That's a 58% jump! Can anybody explain that kind of inflation? Especially when the Rt 28 parking garage estimate was $53,500,000 for 2027 spaces in July 2011 (that's $26,394 per space) and now it is $65,762,000 as of May 2013 (that's $32,443 per space). That's a 23% jump. A 23% jump in the Rt 28 garage estimate is bad enough - but a 58% jump for the Herndon Metro garage?

What is it about the Herndon Metro parking garage, that supposedly makes it so expensive? And why is the Rt 28 garage so expensive? Is MWAA playing games with their estimates for some reason?

And the MWAA parking garage estimates in Loudoun County are similarly high. Looking at the documents, the Loudoun County Metro garage estimates jumped similarly from $26,382 per space to $34,015 per space (that's a 29% jump), when they should have cost more like $17,000 per space. What is going on here?

So here is a question - if MWAA's parking garage price estimates are ridiculously high, then what _other_ MWAA price estimates are ridiculously high?

Hmmm, $15,000 per space, vs. $41,539 per space. When the federal government reopens, maybe it needs to hold a Congressional hearing about this, and call the price estimators to testify in a hearing that is broadcast to the public.

You know, it turns out that these overcharges are affecting federal pensions, and even medical device taxes in Obamacare! See this article:

MAP-21 Funding, Renewal Could be Threatened by Budget Deal
Transportation Issues Daily, October 4, 2013

How bad does this robbery have to get, before people demand some review?

by Bob Bruhns on Oct 8, 2013 4:12 am • linkreport

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