Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld anticipates to release a proposed budget Thursday, Nov. 2, which could include another request from jurisdictions to provide dedicated money to help keep the transit system stable.
Wiedefeld has said possible cuts could be made.
“This is going to be a very challenging year, as every year is a challenging year,” Metro board chairman and D.C. Councilman Jack Evans said at last week’s board meeting.
Evans received public criticism after he threatened to hold up work on the Purple Line light-rail project in Maryland if officials from the state didn’t agree to the board’s committee and bylaws. Both the Maryland and Virginia governors condemned Evans, with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan accusing Evans of extortion.
But that didn’t happen as the board approved to transfer land at the College Park, New Carrollton and Silver Spring stations for construction work on the Purple Line to remain on schedule.
The state’s Maryland Department of Transportation will oversee the project that will connect to several Metro stations in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.
The board not only agreed to decrease committees from eight to five, but removed a plan that would’ve allowed Evans to continue as chair until June, though the board could decide to change leadership in January.
Board member Christian Dorsey, who represents Arlington County, Virginia, stressed the Purple Line project discussed last month that sought to research possible value for Metro to offer land to Maryland deemed necessary and part of the board’s responsibility. The board agreed with Metro administrators’ assessment that the light-rail connection could bring more riders, transit-oriented development to other stations and other revenue generators.
“As fiduciaries to WMATA, that’s exactly what we’re supposed to be doing” Dorsey said. “It should be noted that the action produced further dialogue and produced analysis. … This board has nothing to be ashamed with its conversations in getting a full airing of discussion of what we’re being asked to reconsider to the value and the benefits of the Purple Line project.”
About two hours before the vote, former Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Maryland) stood outside with members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 at a mini-rally for the Metro board to implement safety measures.
Edwards, who’s running for Prince George’s County executive, said in an interview that the power to implement a jurisdictional veto, which Evans threatened to use, shouldn’t be allowed.
“We start by getting our local house in order by having a Metro board that really functions with the interest of the entire system and not just parochial interest,” she said. “In my view, there should be no elected officials on the board. That just creates a dynamic that is an incentive for dysfunction.”