Metro Struggles To Keep Promises And Lower Crime
Board meeting reveals holes in their plans
Compromises the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA or Metro) offered its customers this summer after its record fare hike may be broken.
A Metro finance meeting held on Sept. 15 revealed some new challenges and possible solutions for the cash-strapped transportation entity.
A board of directors meeting held back in May approved the largest fare hike to date but agreed to certain compromises that are looking unfulfillable. As part of the 18 percent fare hike initiative, Metro's SmarTrip card had its price lowered from $10 to $5 and, by August 29, the price would have been lowered to $2.50.
But during Metro's most recent finance meeting, several conflicts were reported to the board. It costs $3.40 to make a SmarTrip card, meaning lowering the price would cost Metro $0.90 per card.
Metro Project manager Steve Holland also said riders could leave a negative balance on their cards. This means an estimated $1 million dollars could be lost per month.
At the meeting, Carol Dillon Kissal, Metro's deputy general manager, proposed installing exit fare machines at every station and no longer allowing SmarTrip cards to retain a negative balance. Updates to the existing machines would take until December, but Metro is still unsure of their decision.
"The feedback I've received from people when they found out they would no longer be able to go negative was very negative," said Riders' Advisory Council member Carl Seip.
Metro is also facing about a 25 percent increase in larceny and robbery and a slight increases in other crimes at stations. In response, council member Carol B. O'Keefe requested approval for an already-awarded grant for increased security at all rail yards and bus stations to be included in the budget.
The Department of Homeland Security awarded an $18.5 million grant that requires no matching funds from Metro's budget. O'Keefe is pushing to have the money included in this year budget and establish a Rail Yard Hardening and Bus Security project.
"Increased security enhancements at rail yards and on buses will increase customer and employee safety and reduce vulnerability from criminal activity," O'Keefe said in her proposal.
The Metro board will meet on Sept. 30 to address SmarTrip options and discuss an increase in security.