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Metro: Off the Rails

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Washington, May 27, 2016 | comments

Imagine that you have a 3 o’clock appointment in D.C. You have your keys, your wallet, plenty of gas—everything you need. You leave your home in Virginia with time to spare. You’re relaxed, calm, and ready to go. Now, imagine that at 2:45 p.m., you’re sitting on I-95 at a dead standstill. You look to your left and to your right. You roll down the window and strain to see ahead, trying to get a glimpse of what’s causing the delay. You’re completely and utterly stuck. You let the reality that you’re nowhere near where you need to be sink in. There’s nothing that you can do in that moment. You are helpless.

That’s the experience that so many folks—including myself—have on Virginia’s roadways every day. Our significant traffic issues don’t just hurt our quality of life, they hurt businesses and limit our possibilities when it comes to economic growth.

There isn’t an “easy fix” for our transportation issues. We have to take an “all of the above” approach, and one aspect of that is using alternative means of transportation. For many Virginians, and especially for our federal workers, that means relying on Metro Rail and Metro Bus to get to work.

Unfortunately, Metro has been plagued with its own issues, and earlier this year, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced that it will be altering and reducing its services to address a series of system-wide safety concerns. As you can imagine, WMATA’s SafeTrack plan, as its being called, could have significant implications for many Virginia riders. Already, WMATA has accelerated the schedule for some of the planned changes, meaning that some riders will have little time to plan for the changes. WMATA’s changes throughout the year also mean that many folks who normally take mass transportation to work will be returning to Virginia’s roadways.

Last week, I had a conversation with WMATA General Manager Paul Wiedefeld to discuss First District impacts and concerns associated with WMATA’s plan. There’s no question that safety has to be the first priority, but I think it’s critical for decision-makers to consider the implications of system-wide delays and changes to service for Metro Rail users and for Virginia commuters in general.

I want to make sure that Metro riders in the First District have an opportunity to be heard. Riders with questions, comments, or complaints are invited to submit this form to my office so that I can pass those concerns on to WMATA officials and decision-makers.

Gridlock and transportation inefficiency affects every Virginian, and I want us to work with each of you to resolve these issues that cause stagnation in our economy and in our communities.  

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