Metro’s day of reck­on­ing


In the movie “Lin­coln,” there is a piv­otal mo­ment in which the na­tion’s elected lead­ers must make a de­ci­sion crit­i­cal to the fu­ture of the na­tion. Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln tells them solemnly: “The day of reck­on­ing is nigh upon us.” That as­sess­ment can also be ap­plied to the de­ci­sions that the D.C. area faces on Metro. Re­form and ad­di­tional fund­ing are needed to save our re­gion’s most vis­i­ble eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment en­gine — one that also plays a cru­cial role in D.C. tourism and se­cu­rity, as well as the fed­eral work­force.

The re­gion’s busi­ness com­mu­nity rec­og­nizes that dras­tic ac­tion is re­quired right now. That is why our or­ga­ni­za­tion, the Greater Wash­ing­ton Board of Trade, is urg­ing our re­gional gov­ern­ment lead­ers to make sig­nif­i­cant gov­er­nance changes at Metro to as­sure that any en­hanced fund­ing for the sys­tem is used ef­fi­ciently to im­prove safety, op­er­a­tions, reli­a­bil­ity and pub­lic con­fi­dence in Metro. Th­ese changes should in­clude re­duc­ing the Metro board to nine mem­bers from its cur­rent 16, set­ting rel­e­vant board­mem­ber qual­i­fi­ca­tions such as those in­cluded in the leg­is­la­tion cre­at­ing the Metro Safety Com­mis­sion, mak­ing the choice of the board chair a joint de­ci­sion by the Mary­land and Vir­ginia gov­er­nors and the D.C. mayor, elim­i­nat­ing the sin­gle-ju­ris­dic­tion veto and mod­i­fy­ing bind­ing ar­bi­tra­tion.

Fed­eral leg­is­la­tion is be­ing de­vel­oped to ad­dress the prob­lems, but de­ci­sive ac­tion must be taken by our re­gional lead­ers, namely Govs. Terry McAuliffe (D) of Vir­ginia and Larry Ho­gan (R) of Mary­land and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D). They should meet im­me­di­ately to de­velop needed changes to the Wash­ing­ton Metropoli­tan Area Tran­sit Au­thor­ity Com­pact. Our re­gion must take con­trol of its destiny; oth­er­wise, the only vi­able op­tion may well be a fed­er­ally im­posed con­trol board. No re­gional leader should want to see that be­come the so­lu­tion.

Metro’s suc­cess is vi­tal to grow­ing our re­gional econ­omy. We are reach­ing out to other busi­ness groups, rid­ers, our em­ploy­ees and the pub­lic to join this ef­fort to urge our re­gional lead­ers and Congress to act now to make changes in gov­er­nance, la­bor mat­ters, op­er­a­tions and ac­count­abil­ity while we also look for ap­pro­pri­ate ded­i­cated fund­ing sources to as­sure that Metro’s fis­cal house is in or­der.

Metro’s re­cent out­stand­ing per­for­mance dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial inau­gu­ra­tion and the Women’s March on Wash­ing­ton demon­strated that the sys­tem can still de­liver, but it needs our help. In­vest­ing in Metro, both or­ga­ni­za­tion­ally and fi­nan­cially, is es­sen­tial to our re­gion’s fu­ture. The day of reck­on­ing is in­deed upon us, and we need to an­swer the call.

Terry D. McCal­lis­ter is the 2017 chair­man of the Greater Wash­ing­ton Board of Trade. Kim­berly K. Horn is the 2017 chair-elect of the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

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