Metro has financial incentives to open the Silver Line ASAP


TYSONS CORNER, VA – APRIL 29: A construction worker passes through the site of the Wiehle-Reston East Silver Line Metro station on April 29, 2014.  Metro expects the Silver Line to open this summer. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

We’ve written extensively about Silver Line delays and the potential penalties that the contractor, Dulles Transit Partners, would have faced had it failed to deliver the project by early April. With the rail line now in Metro’s hands for up to 90 days of testing and training, that led some alert readers to ask this pose this question:

“If Metro doesn’t open the Silver Line within 90 days, are there any penalities?”

The short answer: No.

While Metro doesn’t face penalties (other than maybe some bad press) if it doesn’t open the rail line within 90 days, there are other reasons officials want to get the trains moving as soon as possible.

For every month Silver Line service is delayed, Metro is losing around $2 million in revenue, according to spokesman Dan Stessel. So if officials originally planned on a December 2013 opening that’s roughly $12 million to $14 million in lost revenue. Stessel notes that the authority has accounted for the delay in its current fiscal year. But with a new fiscal year set to start July 1, it’s in Metro’s best interest to open the Silver Line as soon as possible.

And that doesn’t count the cost to other agencies, including Fairfax County, which hired 35 new drivers and bought 15 buses at $455,00 each for its Fairfax Connector service with an eye toward that December opening.

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.

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