Judge: More studies on Purple Line needed
A federal judge ordered Maryland officials to further scrutinize the potential impact of Metro’s declining ridership on the future Purple Line, adding new construction delays for the light-rail project in the Washington suburbs and jeopardizing its chances to secure critical federal funds.
The ruling means major construction on the 16-mile line connecting Montgomery and Prince George’s counties remains on hold until a federal lawsuit filed by Purple Line opponents is resolved. Construction has already been delayed seven months because of the suit.
The decision by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon also greatly jeopardizes the project’s chances at $900 million in federal construction grants and threatens a $5.6 billion publicprivate partnership.
Leon said that Maryland and federal transit officials must redo the Purple Line’s ridership forecasts because they hadn’t taken “the requisite ‘hard look’ at the potential impact that [Metro’s] ridership and safety issues could have on the Purple Line project.”
Leon said the government’s dismissive treatment of Metro’s potential effects was “arbitrary and capricious” and ordered the agencies to update the ridership study “as expeditiously as possible.”
“These [incidents] are part of the culture that we need to change. So if you have, for 40 years, people behaving in a certain way, and you’re trying to change that, it’s a very difficult task to accomplish.” Patrick Lavin, Metro’s chief safety officer