Study: Metro should pri­va­tize, buy for­eign

The Washington Post Sunday - - COMMUTER - — Robert McCart­ney

The fed­eral govern­ment should cut Metro’s costs by mak­ing it eas­ier for the tran­sit agency to pri­va­tize op­er­a­tions and to buy buses and other equip­ment from for­eign sup­pli­ers, ac­cord­ing to a new study by a con­ser­va­tive-lean­ing think tank.

The Amer­i­can Ac­tion Fo­rum also calls for a Govern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Metro’s work­force prac­tices, in­clud­ing those af­fect­ing pay, pro­mo­tions and dis­ci­pline. The six-page re­port is not as de­tailed as other stud­ies of­fered in re­cent months to ad­dress Metro’s strug­gles with safety, re­li­a­bil­ity and fi­nances.

But it dif­fers from most by fo­cus­ing on free-mar­ket so­lu­tions and po­ten­tial ac­tions by the fed­eral govern­ment — rather than by the District, Mary­land and Vir­ginia.

The fo­rum hopes to guide de­ci­sions on Metro by the Repub­li­can-con­trolled ad­min­is­tra­tion and Congress.

The fo­rum’s pro­pos­als on la­bor mat­ters seem most likely to have im­pact in the wide-rang­ing de­bate over how to fix Metro. By con­trast, its call to weaken “Buy Amer­ica” laws to en­cour­age for­eign com­pe­ti­tion is seen as a non­starter be­cause of po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion in the White House and Congress. The re­port urges chang­ing a law that re­quires any tran­sit au­thor­ity re­ceiv­ing fed­eral funds to guar­an­tee jobs to cur­rent work­ers if the agency is ac­quired by an­other group.

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