As Dr. Gridlock wrote in the Post recently, Congress is weighing possible cuts to Metro funding that would be both severe and unwise. Here is a link to the Washington Post article.
Members of Congress from the DC region should unite to oppose this short-sighted proposal. Experts across the region, as well as the public, recognize the key role Metro plays in keeping Greater Washington moving, and the federal government in particular has every reason to support Metro, given it’s critical role in supporting the transportation needs of the large federal workforce here.
Metro has significant capital investment needs — for safety, reliability, performance and user-experience improvements that are sorely needed — and Congress needs to be a constructive part of the solution. It is one thing to criticize WMATA’s leadership or its well-known governance issues, but cutting the funding the agency needs to make progress and improve its performance is both unwise and irresponsible.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has announced a new mixed-use development near the largely underutilized (from a land-use-planning standpoint) New Carrollton Metro station for the new headquarters for the State Department of Housing and Community Development. See the Washington Post Story today for details.
This is good news for Prince George’s County. It is also a good example of sound, transit-oriented development to bring more jobs to parts of the region that need more employment opportunities, already have a large supply of workforce housing nearby, and that are near current or planned transit centers. The proposed new development will include a mix of retail, housing and commercial office space, all of which will help to minimize the need to drive everywhere.
Adding density where it is needed most — near our Metro stations — is one of the long-term strategies that the entire region is pursuing to varying degrees. While this is no panacea for the region’s traffic problems, and in the real world will only make a small dent in the future growth of travel demand, it is a small step in the right direction and worthy of support.
Congratulations to Prince George’s County and the Governor for getting this one right.
A federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) performance audit, released yesterday, faults the Metro Board of Directors for micro-management and lack of strategic focus, among other failings, according to an excellent article in today’s Washington Post by Dana Hedgpeth.
The Metro Board has been called to task by GAO for getting involved in decisions no Board of Directors should ever be involved in — the hiring and firing of individual employees (other than the General Manager) and other minor personnel policies, “excessive contact” with mid-level managers, and such operational minutae as picking out seat colors and station tiles. As anyone who has ever run an effective non-profit organization knows, these are not the kind of decisions any Board should make. This is why you hire a General Manager who then manages his or her professional staff without any interference from the Board.
A Board of Directors should stay focused on its proper role: Setting policy and overall strategic direction, providing resources and financial oversight, and hiring and overseeing the performance of a General Manager. That’s it.
According to GAO, if Metro’s Board did a better job of staying out of the weeds, it would be more effective in keeping its strategic focus where it should be: On key issues like safety, repairs and maintenance, and customer service. If the new Board takes this feedback seriously, and lets General Manager Richard Sarles do his job, perhaps we can see better results and more accountability in the system in the future.