D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy said yesterday that he will seek land for a new Metrobus garage at Bolling Air Force Base, and work for a program to train D.C. public school students for jobs as Metro mechanics.
Fauntroy made his statements after he toured three Metrobus garages as part of an inquiry sparked by reports in The Washington Post that bus service is markedly more reliable in the suburbs than in the city.
"The highest priority has to be the inner-city routes," Fauntroy said. A Post study found that 2.2 percent of D.C. bus trips are missed or cut short, compared with 0.5 percent in Virginia and 1.3 percent in Maryland. The systemwide average is 1.7 percent.
Replacement of Metro's aging Southeastern Division garage off South Capitol Street is a key element to efforts to improve D.C. service, according to Metro officials. But the plan is on hold due to Metro's inability to find a 12-acre site for the new garage.
Fauntroy said he would use contacts in Congress to seek land at Bolling, near the southern tip of the city. Fauntroy was involved several years ago in unsuccessful efforts to obtain land at Bolling for public housing.
Lt. Audrey Bahler, spokesman for Bolling, said yesterday that none of the base's 605 acres is surplus. It is all "in use or being programmed for use in the near future," she said.
Fauntroy called on Metro, its labor unions and the D.C. school system to work together to train skilled mechanics. He said he would confer with D.C. school superintendent Floretta McKenzie about coordinating vocational programs with Metro's needs.
Metro's managers say that lack of skilled mechanics and poor training programs contribute heavily to breakdowns in D.C.