Performers Appear Today at Metro Stations

By Lena H. Sun
Friday, June 15, 2007

Hip-hop dancers, a capella groups, African drummers and others will start performing today at six Metro stations in the District as the transit agency welcomes acts at its stations for the first time.

The inaugural performance will be by two hand dancers at the Q Street entrance of the Dupont Circle Station from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Metro selected 22 artists to perform through Sept. 28. Performances will be mostly on Fridays and Mondays, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., at entrances outside six stations: Dupont Circle, Woodley Park, Metro Center, Fort Totten, Gallery Place and Anacostia.

More than 100 acts auditioned. Those making the cut include a country/bluegrass band, a belly-dance troupe, a storyteller, the D.C. Youth Orchestra, a group of step dancers and an accordion player. Performers will wear identification badges and will not be allowed to panhandle. The D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities will pay $200 per performance.

A full schedule can be found at http://www.wmata.com/about/met_news/story.cfm?ID=1323.

On Saturday, Metro and the Prince George's Arts Council will hold auditions for performances at stations in Prince George's County. Auditions in Montgomery County are scheduled for June 29.

MetroAccess Improvements

A Metro board committee gave preliminary approval to spend $7.5 million to buy new vehicles and add staff to MetroAccess, the troubled transportation service for the elderly and disabled.

Most of the improvements will be paid for by a one-time federal grant. But the committee also agreed to give the paratransit contractor, MV Transportation, an additional $2.7 million a year. Since the contractor took over last year, riders have complained about poor service that many said stems from not having enough dispatchers, reservationists and schedulers.

The money will add 65 vehicles to the current fleet of 341, 28 more dispatchers, 10 more reservationists, and one more scheduler, among other staff increases.

The full board is expected to approve the proposal June 28.

Next Year's Budget

Metro's finance committee approved a $1.9 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 that includes a $1.2 billion operating budget with no fare increases and no service cuts.

To balance the operating budget, General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. instituted layoffs and used a one-time infusion of $40 million that Metro won in a court case, among other measures. The full board has a June 28 deadline to approve the budget

Dulles Metrorail Extension

The Metro board delayed a vote on a proposed operating agreement on the Dulles Metrorail extension until its June 28 meeting. The proposed rail line through Tysons Corner to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County is being built with federal money and funds raised in Northern Virginia, but once it is completed, it will be owned and operated by Metro.

Metro's approval is required for the project to receive federal funding, but board members want to wait until the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors votes on the proposal June 18.

Sale of Metro Headquarters

After more than two hours of often heated debate, Metro board members agreed to further discuss the merits of selling the agency's downtown headquarters building at 600 Fifth St. NW.

The debate was sparked by a proposal from Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) to give the District rights to sell the eight-story building-- valued at at least $68 million, city officials say -- and use the money to build a state-of-the-art headquarters at the Anacostia Station.

In addition, the city would pay Metro $40 million toward the construction of a pedestrian tunnel between the Gallery Place and Metro Center stations.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company