Local governments, businesses and residents have had to make many tough decisions in response to the pandemic – Metro, too, has not been exempt from those struggles. I can appreciate that. However, we know that Metro’s long-term success is tied to increased ridership, especially as we move past the pandemic, and what’s been presented in its FY22 budget will not achieve that.
A few months ago, when Metro first proposed its budget, it had a projected shortfall of $716 million. To remedy this, proposed budget cuts included closing 22 rail stations, including two of the four in Tysons. Another cut, which would increase the time between rail cars to 30 minutes on weekdays and weekends, was also proposed.
Not only is this unacceptable, but it’s also fiscally a bad idea.
Rail is the major revenue generator for WMATA, and these planned services cuts and changes work against increasing ridership. Especially impactful is the proposal’s impact on Tysons, the fastest growing area in the region, which boasts limitless economic upside and a potential high ridership.
These proposed cuts, coupled with what we’re hearing are construction issues that will delay the opening of the Silver Line Phase 2 to early 2022, are frustrating and could be harmful in both the short- and long-term to Metro and our Northern Virginia economy. As I’ve stated, these proposed cuts will have sharp impacts. I also hope that no delays are due to perceived financial constraints and projections but based solely on passenger safety.
I say all this to encourage you to get involved. Public comment on Metro’s proposed budget ends on Tuesday, March 16. If Metrorail service is an important service to you, not just in Tysons, but to navigate this region, and you don’t want to wait 30 minutes if you miss the train, be sure to share your feedback. You can do so here: https://www.wmata.com/initiatives/budget/#2022-proposed
Jeff McKay is chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.