Suburban Maryland residents counting on the Purple Line to create a much-needed rail link between Montgomery and Prince George’s counties suffered a loss Wednesday when a federal judge ruled that the project’s planners revise their ridership expectations before proceeding with construction. The crux in Judge Richard Leon‘s order? Metro, its infrastructural woes, and its sagging ridership.
Leon’s ruling came in a case brought by Chevy Chase, Maryland, residents opposed to the Purple Line—which is supposed to run between Bethesda and New Carrollton—and orders the Maryland Transit Administration to undergo another environmental impact statement, potentially delaying the start of construction this fall. A few hours after Leon’s order, the Federal Transit Administration announced it would delay an event, originally scheduled for Monday, at which the Purple Line would have received $900 million in federal funding, nearly half its $2 billion projected construction cost. With Leon’s ruling, the Purple Line is currently ineligible to receive federal funds.
While transit advocates are sensitive to anything that might set back one of their favored projects—especially one that became more politically tenuous after the election of Republican GovernorLarry Hogan—Leon’s rationale in ordering a new environmental review has them especially cheesed.
“I find that defendants’ failure to adequately consider WMATA’s ridership and safety issues was arbitrary and capricious, and that these conditions create the ‘seriously different picture’ that warrant a [secondary environmental impact statement],” Leon wrote in his nine-page order.
The Purple Line’s planners expect that when service begins, 27 percent of its estimated 70,000 daily riders will be transfers from Metro. The current troubles at WMATA—including poor employee performances, diminishing revenue, dated equipment, and a heavy maintenance program lasting through mid-2017—make it convenient for anyone, federal judges included, to speculate Metro won’t be as robust six years from now. But it’s that same speculation that makes Leon’s decision so objectionable, says Stewart Schwartz, the executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, which advocates for public-transit projects.
“He’s finding that the current challenges at Metro will be permanent and affect ridership in 2040,” Schwartz says. “I can’t imagine anyone thinking our region can survive without Metro.”
Its the region’s continued growth that makes projects like the Purple Line, which has been discussed since 2001, much more necessary. The entire Washington metropolitan area’s population is expected to pass 7 million by the early 2040s; Montgomery County and Prince George’s counties are projected to have a combined population of more than 2.1 million, about 300,000 more than today.
But what really irks Schwartz is Leon’s mixing environmental case law—which is usually very procedural—with substance that sounds like casual grumbling on a Red Line platform.
“The [National Environmental Policy Act],” the law under which the Purple Line was scrutinized, “has become over time an essentially procedural statute,” Schwartz says. “Judges will throw things back if they’ve failed to comply with procedural requirements. The judge in this case seemed to mix substance and procedure, but it leans very heavily on substance. He even quotes that the arbitrary and capricious standard is narrow, but that’s exactly what he’s doing.”
This is not to say Metro should be given the assumption that it’ll work perfectly a decade from now. Even if its SafeTrack plan achieves the improvements its designed to, WMATA still faces severe structural problems with revenue, labor costs, and long-term financing. But using Metro as a cudgel to set back a separate, albeit symbiotic, commuter line in the guise of additional environmental review, as Leon’s ruling does, reeks of NIMBYism.
That’s not a shock, really. The case was brought by a group of Chevy Chase, Maryland, residents who call themselves the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail. The Purple Line’s construction will move part of the trail, which runs between Georgetown and Chevy nChase to a less-densely forested area, but will also result in finally completing the trail’s connection to Silver Spring. The Friends, who have made arguments against the Purple Line ranging fromunfounded concerns over local amphipod populations to the train’s route passing by a few schools, want to replace the planned railway with inter-county buses—which would not run through Chevy Chase at all.
These concerns do not really connect to Metro. “It’s quite the leap the judge is making,” Schwartz says. “Nothing has changed about the environmental effects of the project. It’s a wealthy community fighting project that’ll bring significant [development] interest.”
Even nonpartisan observers were struck by Leon’s rationale. “Can’t recall a group of NIMBYs so successfully f-ing over everyone else as these Chevy Chase folks are. My god,” the Washington Post‘sJonathan O’Connell tweeted.
So what’s next for the Purple Line? Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn is asking the FTA to appeal Leon’s ruling, but with Monday’s $900 million award delayed, the project’s future seems as fragile as ever. Leon has also created a very strange alliance: transit backers who have waited years for the Purple Line are now counting on Hogan and Rahn, who were at best ambivalent on the project’s viability when they took office, to save it. Never doubt the ability of dissatisfaction with Metro to seep into other things.
Rendering courtesy Maryland Transit Administration
As cranes continue to dot the skyline, there’s new reason to be optimistic that D.C. will get more desperately needed affordable housing units over the next few years.
That’s because the District’s Zoning Commission voted last week to strengthen the city’s “inclusionary zoning” program, which gives developers more leeway to construct buildings that are denser than what’s typically permitted—in exchange for providing below-market-rate units. If the D.C. Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser approve it, the change would produce upwards of 2,600 affordable units over the next five to 10 years, according to the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute (DCFPI) and the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
As of now, inclusionary zoning requires new residential buildings to set aside units for households making 80 percent or below the area median income, or $1,600 for a one-bedroom rental. The Zoning Commission approved changing that threshold to 60 percent of AMI, or $1,100 for a one-bedroom rental (equivalent to a three-person family bringing in $59,000 a year). The groups contend that current zoning standards haven’t sufficiently benefitted low- and middle-income residents, many of whom are “severely rent burdened” and spend more than half of their income on housing costs.
“No one tool can completely solve our affordable housing crisis,” saysClaire Zippel, a housing policy analyst at DCFPI. “We’re going to need to keep revisiting our housing programs. That said, I think this [change] will put a big dent in the need [for more affordable housing], especially in terms of increasing economic diversity in high-opportunity neighborhoods with access to transit and jobs.”
Zippel adds that when the District initially adopted inclusionary zoning about 10 years ago, the local housing market wasn’t as hot, and it was the first time policymakers were designing such a program here. She says its administration hasn’t discouraged developers from building in D.C., with residential construction now at its highest level in 25 years. The Department of Housing and Community Development runs a lottery system that matches eligible households with IZ units, Zippel explains, but only 10 to 15 percent of the units created so far through the IZ program have been affordable to households making at or less than 50 percent of AMI.
If finalized, the new changes would not be retroactive, because developments already built or in the pipeline were planned in a different regulatory environment. The D.C. Council last year unanimously passed a “sense of the Council” resolution in support of amending the IZ program. Meanwhile, Mayor Muriel Bowser has made it a priority to maintain affordable housing, in part by investing $100 million in the District’s Housing Production Trust Fund in each of her first two budgets.
“Going forward, preservation [of affordable housing] is going to be the key,” Zippel says, citing a “strike force” Bowser launched to study the issue. “It’s so much harder to reproduce affordable housing that’s been lost than it is to preserve what already exists.”
The commission’s vote follows advocates filing a petition to the body last January. It remains open for public review until 30 days after coming down.
Image courtesy of D.C. Office of Planning
The mood was festive as politicians and fans of all things transit gathered in Reston for the much-anticipated opening of the Metro’s Silver Line. The white tent where the official program was to take place was crammed so full that latecomers — or those without the right connections — were pushed to overflow seating.
The largest infrastructure project ever built in the Washington region was more than a year late and more than $100 million over budget. But on July 26, 2014, all of that was forgotten. As the first Silver Line train pulled out of Wiehle-Reston East station, there were cheers and smiles.
But the celebration would be short-lived. To make room for the line, Metro reduced service on the Blue Line, angering thousands of riders. New rail cars set to arrive before the line opened did not — leaving fewer trains in reserve when older cars broke down. The result? Worsening service disruptions systemwide. Adding to Metro’s woes, ridership was well below projections.
Some began to grumble that the line should never have been built.
Then came the deadly January 2015 Yellow Line smoke incident, followed by a series of chronic service disruptions and safety lapses that led to the rail system being placed under federal oversight. The worsening service led to declining ridership.
Metro blamed the chronic breakdowns on its inability to keep up with much-needed maintenance that had been neglected for years and said it needed more money to catch up. Some observers — and Metro to a degree — blamed the Silver Line, saying the new line placed too much of a burden on the system’s infrastructure. Some riders and others argued that the transit agency should have invested in rebuilding instead of expanding.
“To add to a system that was very widely understood to be failing due to a lack of maintenance as well as a failure of organizational culture, to expand and put more strains on it is beyond idiotic,” said Thomas Rubin, a longtime transportation consultant, who has been critical of rail projects as a solution for congestion. “The new line still has to operate through the old system.”
But does the Silver Line deserve the blame?
“The reality is that it’s just not that straightforward,” said Robert Puentes, president of the Eno Center for Transportation, a nonpartisan think tank.
Even if the Silver Line had never been built, Metro probably would be facing the same problems it is scrambling to fix today, Puentes said.
First, many in the region misunderstand how the line was being built and funded.
Metro is not paying for construction of the 23.1-mile line in Northern Virginia; it is being financed through a combination of federal, state and local funds raised in part through special taxing districts. Dulles Toll Road users are paying for more than 70 percent of the project’s $5.8 billion cost.
The Silver Line “seems like an obvious target, but you have to look under the hood of this issue,” said Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, a transit advocacy group. “There were entirely different funding streams for the Silver Line.”
The Silver Line extension, which is being built in two phases, is the first new line to be added to the Metro system since the Green Line opened in 1991. The first phase, opened in July 2014, has five stations, one in Reston and four in Tysons. The rail line’s second phase has six stations, including one at Dulles International Airport, and will for the first time extend Metro service into Loudoun County. It is expected to open for passenger service in 2020.
Construction of the rail line is being managed by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Once completed, each phase is handed over to Metro, which then assumes responsibility for maintenance and operations. Metro officials’ only involvement in the construction is working with contractors to ensure that the line, once completed, meets its standards and will work seamlessly with the system.
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), who as chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors was among the rail project’s biggest backers, said if anything, blaming the Silver Line is a convenient excuse for those within Metro who have allowed the system to decline over the years.
That is not to say there weren’t additional costs associated with its opening and operation. Metro hired 461 people and trained 88 train operators and 74 station managers when the first phase opened in 2014, and budgeted $50 million to operate it that fiscal year. In 2015, the Silver Line’s first full year of operation, those costs increased to $55 million. But that money came from the transit agency’s operating budget, which in 2015 was roughly $1.7 billion, the bulk of which came from state and local funds. Operating budget money does just that — covers daily operations — as opposed to the capital budget, which pays for things such as rebuilding infrastructure.
Metro refused to make any of its staff or executives available to discuss or answer questions about the line, offering only a link to an online timeline and a notation that the choice to build the Silver Line was a regional decision.
Rubin, the Silver Line critic, said the push to build the extension despite warning signs highlights a fundamental problem plaguing efforts to restore the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
“We can get money to expand, but we can’t get money to maintain,” he said.
That is a dynamic that Bob Chase, president emeritus of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, remembers well.
Chase recalls that as details of the line were being hashed out, there was constant tension between a Metro management that “saw the need to rebuild and maintain what it had and public officials that wanted to expand Metro and get it to Tysons.”
The bottom line, he said: “I don’t think the Silver Line was driven by Metro. I think it was driven by local officials.”
Virginia leaders said the line was critical to economic development in the Dulles corridor and would connect Dulles International Airport with the District’s downtown. Many have noted that Dulles is one of the few major airports that does not have a rail connection. The Silver Line also connects another important economic center — Tysons — to the rest of the region.
The Silver Line “was a critical piece missing from the original investment,” said Connolly, who served 14 years on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, including five as chairman. He also served as chairman of the board of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.
“The region is not the same as it was when we opened Metro” 40 years ago, Connolly said. “Economic growth has shifted toward Northern Virginia — and we have to have supportive infrastructure.”
But perhaps the one aspect that Silver Line critics point to most often — particularly Blue Line riders, who have seen their service cut since it opened — is ridership, which has fallen short of projections.
Wiehle-Reston East — the outermost station — has met projections, including drawing some riders who previously rode the crowded Orange Line. The Tysons Corner station, with its direct connection to Tysons Corner Center mall, has done reasonably well. But overall, according to ridership figures released by Metro on the line’s one-year anniversary in July 2015, the average 17,000 weekday boardings is far short of the 25,000 the line was projected to have after its first year.
In comparison, when Metro extended the Green Line and opened five new stations on its southern end in 2001 — Congress Heights, Southern Avenue, Naylor Road, Suitland and Branch Avenue — ridership overshot projections, leading to crowded platforms and packed trains. The situation was exacerbated by a shortage of rail cars.
Projections were that the new Green Line stations would generate 18,000 new passengers after six months of service; ridership on just the second day of operation was more than 19,500.
Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said while Silver Line ridership has not materialized, the economic benefits of the expansion are already apparent.
“I don’t pick up any regret among property owners and people who have been contributing to the expansion of Metro with special tax districts,” Bulova (D) said. “They know there’s going to be future benefit.”
Some say Metro added to its own problems by not fully grasping the impact and difficulty of integrating the Silver Line into the existing system. Nor did transit agency officials prepare riders, they say.
“I think they didn’t do a fully adequate job of explaining [the impact] to the public,” said Mortimer Downey, a former Metro board member and chairman.
For example, controllers in Metro’s operation center have experienced difficulty moving all the trains they need because of congestion at some rail junctions — particularly at Rosslyn, where the Silver, Orange and Blue lines come together before moving through an underwater tunnel into the District. It is similar to what motorists experience at heavily used interchanges on the Capital Beltway.
“It is difficult to determine how long it takes for riders to react, or by how much, but rail reliability began to decrease for customers around the time of the Silver Line launch, turning down particularly since May 2015,” Metro staff wrote in a report to the board in February of this year.
Around that time, Metro’s managers also acknowledged that the launch of the new rail line “stressed” the agency’s ability to deploy an adequate number of rail cars each day. Officials had hoped to have 64 of the new 7000-series cars online by the time the Silver Line opened, but production was delayed by a 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Japan, where the cars were being built.
Metro officials also conceded that they could not maintain the service levels they had committed to before the Silver Line opened.
Despite the problems, Connolly chafes at assertions that the region would be better off without the line.
Long term, the congressman said, adding stations in Tysons helps guarantee that Fairfax County will remain an active partner in paying for the line’s maintenance and upkeep. That is because Metro is funded, in part, by subsidies from the jurisdictions it serves.
He also noted the extension into Loudoun County means officials there also will contribute to funding to the system.
“The choice [to not build] says we can never improve on or expand Metro’s reach,” Connolly said. “That is a recipe for utter gridlock and economic decline. We have to do both. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.”
Photo courtesy of Amanda Voisard/Washington Post
It has not been smooth ride for Metro commuters this year. Suffering from major disruptions and falling ridership as SafeTrack, a program cramming three years worth of maintenance into one, gets underway, the transit authority is now seeking to ease commuter frustration through crowdsourcing.
Greater Greater Washington, in partnership with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the Coalition for Smarter Growth, launched a campaign called MetroGreater — a contest where anyone can submit an idea on how to improve Metro’s 118-mile network.
As of Tuesday, 891 entries had been submitted since the contest started June 22. Submitted ideas, which can be seen atmetrogreater.org, include things such as a call for free Wi-Fi on trains and a request for signs that notify tourists which side of the escalator is OK to stand.
Submissions will be accepted on the campaign’s website through July 15.
Ten submissions will then be selected by a jury comprised of regional experts and advocates. The public will then vote for a winning submission in August.
Not every idea will make it to the final round — they also have to be feasible improvements. The winning idea must cost no more than $100,000, have no negligible costs continuing into the future and can be completed in three to six months. And, of course, the ideas cannot violate laws or regulations or affect safety.
The contest came about after the appointment of Paul Wiedefeld as general manager of WMATA last November. Wiedefeld promised more dialogue with the public and the contest represents one way the transit authority is seeking to honor that.
The idea for the contest grew from an email chain that started between WMATA and Greater Greater Washington shortly after Wiedefeld’s appointment, according to Aimee Custis, managing director at the Coalition for Smarter Growth, an organization she said works “hand in glove” with Greater Greater Washington.
“As advocates really excited to open a public dialogue, Metro has shown they want to regain rider trust,” she said. “Obviously one contest will not solve that. We want to start a conversation amongst the public and give Metro a chance to show they are honest in that effort [to regain trust].”
Photo courtesy of Joanne S. Lawton
Greater Greater Washington & Coalition for Smarter Growth
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2016 – 10:00 AM
David Alpert, Greater Greater Washington
Aimee Custis, Coalition for Smarter Growth
“MetroGreater” contest solicits rider ideas for small ways Metro can improve rider experience
WASHINGTON DC — A new crowdsourcing contest called MetroGreater, which launched this morning, allows riders and other members of the public to suggest small ideas to improve the experience on Metrorail, Metrobus, and MetroAccess. The public is invited to submit ideas at metrogreater.org and comment on others’ entries.
The contest is produced by Greater Greater Washington in collaboration with the Coalition for Smarter Growth and WMATA. While Metro is hard at work on serious, long-term, safety-related rebuilding through SafeTrack, there are opportunities to make smaller, faster, cheaper changes along the way which will improve the rider experience both during rebuilding and beyond.
Since General Manager Paul Wiedefeld took over at WMATA, the agency has already taken several steps to help riders, such as adding decals to platforms showing where trains will stop and color-coding eight-car trains on the digital signs. This contest will help WMATA identify further ideas to help riders on rail, bus, and paratransit.
Eligible ideas are those that:
- Can be implemented by Metro in no more than 3-6 months;
- Will cost no more than $100,000 to complete;
- Have negligible costs to continue into the future;
- Violate no laws or regulations; and
- Will not negatively impact service or safety.
The public can access the contest details and rules, and submit their own entries, at metrogreater.org. Submissions will be accepted through July 15, 2016. A jury of regional experts and advocates will select 10 submissions that meet all necessary criteria as finalists. The public will vote for a winner in August.
WMATA has committed to implementing the winning entry within six months, and could implement other ideas as well at their option. Greater Greater Washington and the Coalition for Smarter Growth will offer periodic updates on the implementation status of the winning entry through late 2016. The winner will receive public recognition and some transit memorabilia.
“Metro has serious safety and repair problems that General Manager Wiedefeld is working to address with SafeTrack and other initiatives,” said David Alpert, founder and President of Greater Greater Washington. “But in the meantime, WMATA shouldn’t stop finding quick ways to make things better for riders on all forms of transit. When Mr. Wiedefeld came on board at WMATA, he approached us about ways to better engage with riders, and we were pleased he was willing to green-light a project like MetroGreater. This effort is another small step in the right direction for Metro.”
“Those of us outside the transit agency can’t turn wrenches or replace rail ties,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director at the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “But riders, advocates, and the public have a wealth of knowledge, ideas, and energy that we can share. Riders know the system intimately, and we’re excited to see the small, creative and implementable ideas the contest brings to light that WMATA can use to improve the rider experience.”
Greater Greater Washington and the Coalition for Smarter Growth are regional thought leaders on transit and have repeatedly shaped the region’s conversation on the Metro system, including: making the case for transit-oriented development; building support for the Silver Line, Potomac Yard Metro Station, and priority bus corridors including dedicated bus lanes; and devising the station subtitle naming system that’s on the Metro map today.
About Greater Greater Washington
Greater Greater Washington harnesses blogging and community activism to build informed and civically engaged communities of people who believe in a growing and inclusive Washington DC region and speak up for livable communities for all. Read more at ggwash.org.
About the Coalition for Smarter Growth
The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading advocacy organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. For 19 years, the Coalition for Smarter Growth has worked for walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish. Learn more at smartergrowth.net.
Just about everyone has an idea for improving Metro. The challenge presented in a new contest launched by the blog Greater Greater Washington is to develop an idea within these bounds: Metro must be able to implement the idea in three to six months, the cost must be no more than $100,000 to create and almost nothing to continue, it must be legal, and it must not have any bad effect on service or safety.
The contest, developed by Greater Greater Washington in collaboration with the Coalition for Smarter Growth and Metro, already has drawn a bunch of entries. You can see them, comment on them and submit your own ideas, at metrogreater.org.
Contest entries will continue until July 15. Then by Aug. 5, a jury will select 10 of the entries that meet all the rules, and those finalists will be put to a public vote from Aug. 8 to 19, with the winner announced by Aug. 24. David Alpert, founder and president of Greater Greater Washington, says Metro has committed to using the winning entry within six months.
Alpert noted that Metro is in the midst of some huge rebuilding projects. Most prominent lately is the SafeTrack maintenance plan. In the meantime, he said, “there are opportunities to make smaller, faster, cheaper changes along the way which will improve the rider experience both during rebuilding and beyond.”
He pointed out the new decals on some platforms that mark where the back of a six-car train will be when it pulls into the station and the green “8” on the next-train signs that give riders a heads-up about the approach of an eight-car train. To that, I’d add the Customer Accountability Report launched by Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld. (You can find a link to that PDF on Metro’s home page.)
“Those of us outside the transit agency can’t turn wrenches or replace rail ties,” said Stewart Schwartz, executive director at the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “But riders, advocates and the public have a wealth of knowledge, ideas and energy that we can share. Riders know the system intimately, and we’re excited to see the small, creative and implementable ideas the contest brings to light that WMATA can use to improve the rider experience.”
The contest winner gets “public recognition and some transit memorabilia,” according to Greater Greater Washington.
This is a great idea on the part of everyone involved. The transit authority needs to be more in touch with riders on the seemingly little things that actually could do a lot to boost customer service. Little projects with high visibility can help restore some of the public’s lost confidence in Metro.
Photo courtesy of J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post
When it rains on Metro, it pours. But a local blog and a nonprofit are hoping that riders can help alleviate the agency’s sorry state through a crowdsourcing contest they’ve branded as “MetroGreater.”
Greater Greater Washington and the transit-focused Coalition for Smarter Growth announced the endeavor on Wednesday, as Metro implements its yearlong SafeTrack maintenance plan. The contest, however, is aimed at “smaller, faster, cheaper changes” than the $60-million plan is expected to accomplish. Riders can submit their ideas to improve Metro’s customer-service experience online, until July 15; they’ll also be able to weigh in on others’. “A jury of regional experts and advocates” will select 10 finalists before the public votes for a winner in August. According to the groups, Metro has promised to act on the most popular recommendation within six months, and could choose to enact others.
“Those of us outside the transit agency can’t turn wrenches or replace rail ties,” Stewart Schwartz, CSG’s executive director, said in a statement. “But riders, advocates, and the public have a wealth of knowledge, ideas, and energy that we can share.”
The construction of a new line isn’t what the groups are looking for. To be eligible as a finalist, the ideas must be practicable by “Metro in no more than three to six months,” “will cost no more than $100,000 to complete,” and be sustainable. (Nothing illegal or detrimental to service, either.) Already, woebegone passengers have started submitting ideas. Among them: wider platforms, door-warning platform stickers, reversible escalators, and free rail-bus transfers.
GGW and CSG note that Metro General Manger Paul Wiedefeld has taken up ameliorative actions since joining the agency last year, citing his decisions to color-code eight-car trains on digital displays as well as installing decals that illustrate where cars will come to a stop on platforms. For the contest, riders can submit Metrobus and MetroAccess ideas, too.
Within the transit agency, Metro today announced the hire of Joseph Leader, a former New York City subway official, as its new chief operating officer. Leader is set to begin on Aug. 1 and replace Jack Requa, the current acting COO.
Image courtesy of Darrow Montgomery
WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld is already implementing new ideas to make the Metro better, such as adding decals to platforms and color-coding eight-car trains, but these ideas aren’t enough. Starting this Wednesday, WMATA launched a crowdsourcing contest, called MetroGreater, that will allow the public to submit ideas on how to improve Metrorail, Metrobus, and MetroAccess.
These ideas must be able to be implemented within a span of six months or less, cost no more than $100,000, and not violate any laws or regulations. Other requirements include that these ideas must not negatively impact service or safety and must not have negligible costs to continue into the future.
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Mariordo