No, DC Metro riders don't get what we pay for #WMATA

I know most readers of RedState (myself included) would oppose building a system like the subways in the District of Columbia and surrounding areas. But it was built, over the preceding decades, and it currently exists as an asset we have. Any desire we have for good governance must compel us to be good stewards of this system, which we have spent many taxpayer dollars to build over the years.


We should all be unhappy that a combination of no accountability at the top, with a runaway union below, have left the system in disrepair. None of that happens because fares are too low.

We’ve all poured billions into this system over the years, in the form of various subsidies the federal government has given the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). We’ve bought buses, we’ve laid track, and we’ve bought trains. But the buses don’t run, the tracks are poorly maintained, and the trains are lemons. The system is so bad it’s killing people. Literally.

The system is getting a lot of money. The fact that it it’s irresponsibly leaving components off of the track systems, leading to fires that fill tunnels with smoke and kill a passenger, has nothing to do with how much money it’s getting. So for the Washington Times to come out and give WMATA a pass, by saying that the poor service is a function of fares being too low, is a pathetic apology for an inept, and possibly corrupt government agency.

WMATA awards a contract to wire the system with cellular service, and upgrade its own communications at the same time. The contractor goes mysteriously bankrupt, just around the time General Manager Richard Sarles walks away. Nobody asks questions.


WMATA and land developers browbeat Loudoun County Virginia into raising taxes to pay to run the Silver Line train to Dulles Airport, even though they’ll only have two of the stations on that line (Dulles station itself will be on MWAA’s land). Now we’re being told of ‘unforeseen’ delays due to stormwater runoff and endangered species, none of which was told to the people of Loudoun County beforehand. Nobody asks questions.

WMATA routinely lies to its customers about basic matters like trains and scheduling. They tell us they’ll do one thing (like 8 car trains on one line, but not another), then do the opposite. That seems like a small thing, but it speaks to a lack of operational control over the system, and a lack of honesty in communicating with the public. Nobody asks questions.

One quarter of the board of WMATA is under the Obama administration’s direct control. Nobody asks questions.

The Mayor of DC, Muriel Bowser, came to her current position directly from the board of WMATA, where she was supposed to be watching GM Richard Sarles and the system. Nobody asks questions.

It’s August of 2015 and WMATA hasn’t even released an audited financial report for 2014 yet. Nobody asks questions.


You know who benefits when the Washington Times makes an irrelevant point about fares, when a government agency is lying, squandering money, and killing people? The union does. The corrupt contractors do. The government officials in charge of this disaster do. Those assigned to oversee the management do. All of these failures all around, government wasting real money, telling real lies, and killing real people.

Maybe fares do need to be higher. But first let’s fire the incompetents, investigate the financial mismanagement, and stop killing people.


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