Metro’s board and several committees are meeting today, with business that included approving transit-oriented development on a 39-acre site around New Carrolton Station. The board approved Forest City Enterprises, Urban Atlantic to lead that project; the Maryland Department of Transportation is expected to sign off, too.
The agreement would entail MDOT making available $350,000 and Metro reimbursing developers up to $650,000 of consultant costs for planning of the public and private elements of the project.
CEO Richard Sarles said that a reduction in funding to the agency in budgets proffered by House Republicans would cause a deterioration in the quality of Metro service. One Februaray proposal would have cut grants from the Federal Transit Administration by $150 million just as the agency is preparing to cope with a forthcoming budget gap of $72 million, the Post’s Ben Pershing reported.
There are major capital funds in jeopardy, Sarles said. ”If that happens, we will do what we can to operate safely, but customer service will suffer.”
He said Metro will continue to advocate for federal funding on behalf of its customers. The agency spends about $200,000 yearly on lobbying.
At a safety committee meeting Thursday morning, Metro police chief Michael Taborn said Metro will install 153 live security cameras at station entrances in next six months to a year. The cameras will scan station exteriors and can be monitored by D.C., Maryland and Virginia authorities and used to observe crowds and as evidence in crimes.
He also said Metro will research using volunteers to serve as auxiliary police in system, as suggested by the board.
Thirty percent of Metro larcenies are bike-related, even though there are far more car spaces than bike racks, D.C. board member Thomas Downs said. Following a Washington Post story on Metro’s efforts to increase capacity without spending on expensive parking, bikers said they were upset with the rising cost of bike lockers.
Earlier in the meeting, it was revelealed that a cause of the Foggy Bottom escalator collapse last month was a large rag jammed in the top plate. The top plate broke, in turn causing four steps to break. A Metro official said there are a handful of similar model escalators in system, and manufacturer is examining them for problems. Metro official said the escalator came to a slow stop as intended, to prevent people from being thrown, as occured during an earlier malfunction at L’Enfant Plaza. That malfunction was related to the escalator’s brakes.
The board is slated to meet several Metro employees in an effort to get better aquainted with station managers and train operators.