Metro’s largest union is proposing a mix of dedicated taxes, labor partnerships and fare and service adjustments to rescue the agency’s finances according to a new report released Thursday.
In the 13-page plan titled, “Fund It, Fix It, Make it Fair,” the union lays out its vision of a path forward for the struggling agency. The plan calls for special tax districts “to generate predictable transit funding in a far more equitable manner.”
It also calls for dedicating rental car taxes from airport Metro stations — Reagan National and eventually Dulles — to go toward Metro’s operating costs.
The transit agency faced a $290 million operating shortfall for the coming fiscal year, a financial hole the Metro board offset by instituting fare hikes and service cuts earlier this month.
The union plan also calls for amending federal law to let transit systems, such as Metro, use Federal Transit Administration funds for operating costs during crisis situations, and using the maximum amount of allowable FTA funds for preventive maintenance, a move that has raised concerns in the past.
The report also makes recommendations aimed at winning back riders. The union calls for a flat fare system, rather than the distance-based prices used today, free transfers from local bus to rail, and a discount program for low-income passengers. It goes on to call for Metro to expand its hours of operation.
Metro’s board agreed last year to cut back the system’s operating hours to allow for more time for track work and preventive maintenance.
It’s unclear if any of the union’s suggestions will gain traction, but the union joins the chorus of business and grass-roots leaders calling for dedicated funding for the troubled system.
And the report appears timed to influence the agency’s management team before it wades into the funding discussion in coming weeks.
This is a developing story and will be updated.