Regarding the Dec. 21 editorial “The either-or choice that’s killing Metro”:
That local politicians cannot find the means to operate Metro safely calls their competence into question. The D.C. area has by far the highest median household income of any metro area in the United States, at about $93,300; second highest is San Francisco at $88,500; New York is $68,700. We have the income; do we refuse to use it to pay for safe public transit? Should Metro be charging higher fares, or are the operations costing too much? Or both? I doubt that the members of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board have a clue. They squabble and bicker and leave us with a mess.
Frank Nicolai, Fort Washington
Northern Virginia and the region have waited decades for Metro to serve Dulles International Airport. The importance of the Dulles connection cannot be overstated. Completion of the Silver Line extension is vital to our future economy, job creation and congestion relief.
That’s why this project should not and must not be used as a political football.
We are scratching our heads over recent suggestions by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Board Chairman Jack Evans and board member Corbett A. Price that construction of the last 11 miles of this $5.8 billion infrastructure project be halted [“Virginia pressed on Metro funding,” Metro, Nov. 30]. It’s time to stop using the Silver Line as a scapegoat for other issues — be they service hours, rail maintenance or budget. Hollow threats distract from the need to achieve a regional consensus on fixing and sustaining Metro. These threats also ignore the fact that WMATA is not paying to build the Silver Line. Funds come from special taxing districts in Fairfax and Loudoun counties, motorists using the Dulles Toll Road, Virginia, the federal government and the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority, which is managing the project. These funds are earmarked for Silver Line construction and cannot be shifted to cover Metrorail maintenance.
A direct link between the District and an international airport supports economic growth and improves global access. The Silver Line project includes expansion of Metro’s fleet by 128 new rail cars. These cars will serve passengers from all jurisdictions, resulting in a safer and more comfortable ride.
WMATA’s operating expenses will rise when the final six stations open, as will Virginia’s share of those costs. Loudoun County will be added as a WMATA funding partner and the number of Virginia stations will grow to 31, increasing the percentage of funds Virginia pays to support Metro. Talk of ending Silver Line construction has shaken our confidence in the ability of Metro’s board to lead the agency and has left us concerned about the chilling effect on economic growth.
Debt, should construction come to a halt, is another concern. Because part of the Silver Line’s financing is supported by $1.9 billion in federal loans, taxpayers would have to repay the expended funds, as well as interest and penalties, with nothing but bare track and vacant stations to show for it.
WMATA’s general manager, who has our full support, has provided a clear and concise path forward for the system. Metro faces numerous challenges, but completing construction of Silver Line Phase 2 is not among them. Now is the time for member jurisdictions to join together, leverage our collective resources and ingenuity, and fix Metro so that we can continue to grow our economy for years to come.
Sharon Bulova, Fairfax
The writer is chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
Phyllis Randall, Loudoun
The writer is chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.
Jay Fisette, Arlington
The writer is chairman of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.