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Virginia’s Metro board rep says transit system’s $300 million shortfall could double by 2019

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If you thought the numbers were high already, it looks like things could get worse for Metro.

Virginia’s representative on the Metro (WMATA) board, Second Vice Chairman Jim Corcoran, said Thursday during a State of Transportation event in Loudoun County that the transit system’s nearly $300 million fiscal 2018 operating shortfall could double by 2019.

“If things don’t change, it will be impossible,” Corcoran said. “We’re at $300 million this year ... but next year it’s going to be $500-$600 million.”

Last week, the Metro board’s finance committee approved General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s proposed operating budget that includes service cuts and fare hikes. The full board is expected to take a final vote on that budget later this month.

If Corcoran's predictions are correct, the increase would come just a year before Metro comes to Loudoun in 2020.

Corcoran, who is also the CEO of the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, told the Times-Mirror that Metro’s year-long SafeTrack maintenance program is one of the main culprits of the budget woes. He said the transit authority "overspent" its long-term budget capacity with the recent SafeTrack initiative.

“For next year, that bonding capacity is not there,” he said.

Officials say this year’s shortfall was caused in part by expense growth, a decline in ridership as a result of SafeTrack, an increase in telecommuting, lower gas prices and more transportation options.

The second vice chair’s prediction also came as President Donald Trump proposed a federal budget that looks to make cuts to several government agencies, including a 13 percent reduction to the Department of Transportation.

About 15 percent Metro’s funding comes from the federal government.

Corcoran noted that Trump's proposed budget, paired with the lack of consistent and reliable funding from the feds and commonwealth of Virginia, makes things worse.

“There’s no clear path. All the jurisdictions are very nervous about this,” Corcoran said.

In recent months, leaders from local jurisdictions, including in Loudoun County, have been reeling over the capital and annual operating costs they are being expected to pay for Metro.

From fiscal 2017 to 2018, the jurisdictional funding for capital costs in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have shot up between 90 percent to more than 200 percent.

Meanwhile, proposed jurisdictional operating funding for fiscal 2018 ballooned from $866.5 million in 2017 to now $997 million.

According to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Government’s latest projections from October, Loudoun will start to pay Metro around $12 million in fiscal 2019 in annual operating and capital costs.

The next year, the number is slated to jump to $50.8 million, then to $58.4 million in 2024 and as high as $82.1 million in 2025.

To help pay for the unexpected high costs, local leaders have been calling for dedicated sources of funding from the federal government and General Assembly.

Corcoran said changes must be made to Metro’s governing compact between D.C., Maryland and Virginia to try to get some savings out of the system.

For now, he says, there has to be an “increased capacity” for funding from localities at the state and jurisdictional level.

But with competing local funding needs for schools, public safety and other projects, Corcoran wonders, “What’s the appetite for that?”

Comments


Very interesting information, since Buona and Letourneau push that our county tax payers will not have tax increases due to these supposed Metro increases.  I asked why?  They said we are making tax districts around the Metro stations.  Lets say that again, TAX DISTRICTS.  So, the prior comments from the two wonders on the BOS, stated no tax increases from county residents. So these two tax districts around the Metro Stations are not in the county?  Boys and girls, its time that reality needs to be brought into county government.  If the BOS believes the people who pay taxes here don’t understand or don’t see past the garbage you are shoveling, you should try again.  Don’t say to us that the people voted you in to do this, you won based on lies, now you have shown your true skin. Additionally, people don’t wish to vote for liberals.  Next election will be fun, for I foresee at least 3 or 5 primary’s or independent candidates taking on the current bunch of rub stamps. 


What I find hard to believe about Flipflop Reid is that people were stupid enough to elect him to the Leesburg Town Council after his nonsense with the county BOS regarding the METRO. Does he plan to turn Leesburg into Sleaseburg? He needs to be shown the door, permanently. He still has not explained what prompted him to change his mind and vote for the METRO 15 minutes before the vote was taken and after telling several of us that he would not support it. How many pieces of silver did he receive and from whom?


Metro, another 5 letter word that means Loser!


Just when you thought the nightmare couldn’t get any worse, it does.

The BoS needs to get out of the compact now.  It should be abundantly clear that Metro will be a financial anchor to the county and nobody is throwing Metro a financial life preserver.  Here is what they need to do.

1. Hire a contract law firm to get us out of the boondoggle. Metro is now slated to cost us hundred of millions (eventually billions) more than anticipated. Instead, spend millions (or tens of millions) on good lawyers to get us out. Don’t rely on the County Attorney.  Get a group of high powered lawyers who specialize in contract law.  Focus on WMATA’s deception of the actual costs. The fact that they knowingly withheld actual costs is the basis for the argument. Even if we spend tens a millions on a law firm, we save in the long run.
2. Getting out is only temporary.
3. In the meanwhile, lobby for the dissolution of WMATA and MWAA. Put them into bankruptcy. Shed debt and labor contracts.
4. Get a new compact that actually works with an actual funding mechanism and without union labor. Get a full and accurate understanding of the capital costs and have the partners agree to a method to fund the capital expenditures.
5. Enter into a new compact with fair terms and a system that the region can afford.
6. Commute to work.

Again, this is a Metro hiatus.  Get out and stay out until Metro gets cleaned up.


All those fine speeches touting the benefits of Metro by Buona and Letourneau can be filed in the same black hole as the speeches touting the baseball park at One Loudoun. Their shining light on the hill is the tax collector coming for your money to pay for this travesty. Fuller was to Metro as Gruber was to the Affordable Care Act and both are imploding before our eyes.


It will provide a minimal number of Loudoun residents with commuting assistance, a ride to the airport we don’t need, bring virtually no one with money TO Loudoun, facilitate the flight of spending money FROM Loudoun, create a new tax district, jack up our tolls, and, now, saddle us with the legacy of decades of debt for mismanagement and decay that completely predated our involvement with the project.

Great.


To BOS, there are many Loudoun Residents who look forward to Metro coming. My hope is that the current and future boards insist on commercial and office in   any development


Shouldn’t be a shock to anyone. Next on the agenda will be delayed completion, shoddy work, then low ridership.


Dumbest statement ever.


Government budgeting at its best….should have stopped at the airport….please send the bill to ken reid…


I live 10 minute drive from one of the Ashburn metro stops and I will NEVER use that death trap to get to work (Bethesda - Red line). It is going to be minimum 1.50 hour ride and who knows how expensive. I can drive in 45 mins and WAAAAAY less cost in dollars.


To add to Loudoun Res points- those 400K condos carry at LEAST a $500 per month Condo Fee (non deductible on tax return unless rented out).

My friend lives at the Rotunda in Tysons and his Condo Fees are $750 per month and this is a building like 30 years old (at least).


It just keeps getting better and better.

And all so a few real estate developers can sell $400K condos adjacent to a metro station.

Totally worth it.


Don’t forget it was Ken Reid who was viewed as the Supervisor that was somewhat on the fence, but voted YES for Metro, resulting in this fiasco coming inside our borders.  Wonder if he’ll be lobbying to bring it to Leesburg now that he’s on the Town Council?


Bill the moron BOS who voted to bring this sick system into Loudoun County. Their thinking was clouded by the promises made by the slimeball developer community. Make sure they pay for Loudoun’s share..most people did not want this link to Scum City…

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