Theodore C. Lutz's replacement as general manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will find solid political support for completing the 100-mile Metro system, but he will face a number of unresolved issues about Metro in general. Some of the more important issues:
Metro estimates that it will need about $3.1 billion in unappropriated money to finish the 100-mile system. Of that total, $551 million will have to come from state and local sources and $2.5 billion from federal sources. More than $1 billion in federal money is available through transfers from unbuilt interstate highways. The rest will have to be appropriated directly to Metro or Metro will have to compete with other ciites for national mass trans it funds. Bond issue elections will be required for the local funds in some jurisdictions.
Metro collects about half of its operating costs on the combined bus and subway system from fares. The rest comes from subsidies. Most of the Maryland and Virginia subsidies come from property tax revenues. Metro has been seeking separately earmarked nonproperty tax sources to guarantee financial stability for the system. The federal government has said that Metro must have guaranteed operating resources before federal subway contruction aid can be guaranteed.
Metro lacks a clearly defined policy on fares, and the result is a confusing fare schedule for riders. The District of Columbia has generally favored keeping fares at current levels and increasing subsidies. Virginia jurisdictions have favored formulas that require fares to increas with inflation. Maryland has generally fallen somewhere in between. Until those philosophies are compromised, a rational fare structure for the area is impossible.
Metro's many jurisdictions have never been able to agree on a permanent formula to allocate revenues and costs to individual jurisdictions. Like fares, the allocations are renegotiated annually in painful, sometimes bitter, always time-consuming sessions.