FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2017
Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth
Statement on WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s ‘New Business Model’ proposal
WASHINGTON DC – WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld released a proposal for a ‘new business model’ for Metro on Wednesday afternoon, to address operating costs and the $15.5 billion needed over the next 10 years for capital investments to make sure the system “remains safe and reliable.” Stewart Schwartz, the Executive Director of the pro-transit regional Coalition for Smarter Growth, responded to General Manager Wiedefeld’s proposal in the following statement:
“We have a lot of respect for the General Manager and his leadership. The General Manager’s plan is the best we’ve seen to date. His statement is bluntly honest about the situation and we generally endorse his proposals — although we will need more information about some of them.
General Manager Wiedefeld is providing critical recommendations for evaluation by the LaHood panel, which represents our best opportunity to develop shared facts and understanding about the challenges and best fixes for the system in time for legislative action on funding next year.
To be clear, General Manager Wiedefeld confirms that even with these major reforms, Metro needs additional revenue for both operating costs and capital needs. Metro is the backbone of our transportation network and regional economy, and as such, merits the funding needed to fully restore the system. For too long, our elected officials haven’t made Metro’s state of good repair needs a priority – year after year approving a regional transportation plan without fully funding Metro capital needs.
We hope that the unions will be full partners in the effort to fix WMATA and address rising costs. They know the system from the ground up and can offer much, but like riders and taxpayers, they too have to contribute to fixing the financial challenges facing the system.
We disagree with those who propose opening the compact which risks political gridlock and diverts the focus from the fixes we can do now and from the agreement we need to reach on dedicated funding. We agree with the General Manager and others who say that many reforms are possible without opening the compact.
We don’t think a control board, such as has been proposed by the Federal City Council, is necessary. Nor would major WMATA Board of Director restructuring be necessary to address the core operating and capital issues. A restructured board would still be responsible to the funding jurisdictions,” Schwartz concluded.
About the Coalition for Smarter Growth
The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading nonprofit organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. With 24,000 supporters across the DC region, its mission is to promote 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.