Posts Tagged ‘Board’

Buses and Trains and Vans, Oh My! – How Metro’s Operating Budget Pays for Service

February 22nd, 2016 No comments

Ever wondered how much service your transit fares pay for, or how your tax dollars are spent? Read all about the intricacies of Metro’s operating budget!

How to Get Involved

Do you want a say in Metro’s budget? A public comment period on the FY17 budget (both capital and operating) is now open, and it will end 9am on Monday, February 29th. Please submit your feedback the following ways:

  • Take an online survey at
  • Email your written comments at
  • Attend a formal public hearing at Metro Headquarters, 600 5th St NW, Washington DC, on Monday, February 22. An Open House will begin at 6 p.m. and the Public Hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Additional communications and outreach efforts will continue over the next few weeks, including notification to local stakeholders and community based organizations; signs posted in Metrorail stations, Metrobuses, and MetroAccess vehicles; surveys sent to a statistical sample of registered SmarTrip® cardholders; ads in local English and non-English publications; and other media efforts including advisories, press releases and social media. The online survey and legal notice will also be available in seven languages.

Staff will summarize and present community feedback to the Board in March, and the Board will use that feedback as a vital input in budget negotiations before adopting a final budget in April.

So be on the lookout for opportunities to learn more about next year’s budgets and to have your voice and ideas heard!

Operating Budget Basics

This is the last of three related posts that attempt to simplify the complex world of transit system funding, and to give Metro’s riders and regional residents some tools to engage in budget discussions. The first post focused on the Capital Funding Agreement (CFA, PDF) and the Capital Improvement Program (CIP, PDF), which together establish a six-year framework for funding projects that improve the Metro System’s safety, reliability, and performance. The second post focused on the annual capital budget, and this post discusses the annual operating budget.

If you walk away from this post with nothing else, the graphic below summarizes the most important points about Metro’s operating costs and who ends up paying the bills:

Metro Ops Funding Scale

The capital budget pays for projects where Metro is building something or buying equipment: purchasing new buses and rail cars, building a new station entrance, improving a bus stop, or buying new parts for escalators. The operating budget pays the costs (salaries, fuel, utilities) of running the system on a daily basis, including all the customer services highlighted in the graphic below:


Metro’s costs of doing business have been rising steadily every year, but unfortunately Metro’s revenues have either grown at a slower pace or been flat. This dynamic tension has created an intense need to fill the gap between costs and revenues, but that need runs up against an opposing pressure not to reduce service levels, increase fares, or impose higher costs on the counties and cities Metro serves (the Compact jurisdictions). Metro staff have developed a draft FY17 budget that appears to balance these conflicting forces, and we are currently running a public engagement process to gather feedback on that recommended budget.

Read more…

Squaring Circles: De-Mystifying Metro’s Budget and Funding Sources (Part Two of Three)

February 5th, 2016 1 comment

As Metro kicks off its public engagement effort for next year’s capital and operating budgets, now is the perfect time to get involved in helping shape the Authority’s priorities for the next few years!


This is the second of three related posts that attempt to de-mystify transit funding and give the residents of Metro’s service area some tools to engage in budget discussions. The first post focused on the Capital Funding Agreement (CFA, PDF) and the Capital Improvement Program (CIP, PDF), which together establish a six-year framework for funding projects that improve the Metro System’s safety, reliability, and performance. This post focuses on how the CIP translates into an annual capital budget, and the next post will explore the annual operating budget.

Read more…

WMATA – The Fundamentals

January 6th, 2016 No comments

We explore questions about WMATA’s creation and how decisions are made in our “Metro 101” series.

Metrorail groundbreaking at Judiciary Square (December 9, 1969)

Why was WMATA created?

WMATA was founded in 1967 to serve 3 primary functions:

  1. To plan, develop, finance and “cause to be operated” improved transit facilities as part of a balanced regional transportation system;
  2. To coordinate the operation of the public and privately owned or controlled transit facilities into a unified regional transit system;
  3. To serve “other regional purposes” as needed.

Read more…

Squaring Circles: De-Mystifying Metro’s Budget and Funding Sources (Part One of Three)

January 4th, 2016 No comments

One of the most critical issues facing public transportation is how to pay for it. In a short series of blog posts, we’ll try to explain Metro’s finances and give you tools to engage in budget discussions. 

No matter where you stand on the question of supporting or using public transportation, one of the loudest and most constant debates is how to pay for it. It’s a complicated question that combines values, politics, resources, and legal obligations. It also revolves around the technicalities of multiple funding sources (fares, grants, taxes) and how those sources can be spent (allowable types of projects, legal requirements, matching funds, etc.). Most people probably know Metro operates under a yearly budget. However, that annual budget and Metro’s ability to raise and spend funds is shaped by a larger policy and planning framework. This initial post focuses on three pillars of that policy framework: the WMATA Compact, the Capital Funding Agreement (CFA), and the six-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP). It also summarizes the annual budget planning process.

Funding policy context

WMATA’s funding policy framework

Read more…

Q&A with Mary Hynes: WMATA and Arlington County Board Member

October 21st, 2013 No comments


Mary Hynes, a Metro Board Member, sat down with the Region Forward team to answer a few questions about the region’s biggest challenges, how Metro can help the region meet the goals in Region Forward, and how citizens can get involved. In addition to her role at Metro, Ms. Hynes is an Arlington County Board Member and the Chair of the Council of Governments’ Region Forward Coalition, the public-private group leading the effort to implement COG’s vision for the region’s future.

Q: What do you think are the regions biggest challenges?

Mary Hynes: “The economy is a big challenge. We are still figuring out ‘the new normal’ with the federal government. The issues of housing and how people move efficiently around the region are also critical. It’s critical that we understand how housing and multimodal transportation options fit into the bigger picture of achieving a thriving region built of individual vibrant communities – one that is also attuned and committed to meeting the social equity requirements of our diverse, sustainable region.”

Q: How does Metro help us meet our Region Forward goals?

Mary Hynes: “The Metro Board made a decision when considering how to frame its new strategic plan to key off of Region Forward. We – my colleagues on the Metro Board and Metro’s professional staff – looked at what regional leaders had done with Region Forward—the goals they had set—and said “Metro can be the catalyst that enhances regional mobility and convenes stakeholders to ensure a successful, integrated regional multi-modal system”. We worked with the Transportation Planning Board at COG to make sure Momentum and the TPB’s Priorities Plan are aligned.  It wasn’t hard because, in fact, there is regional consensus on the next set of transportation moves the region needs to make.

It’s an exciting time to be participating with COG and Metro. It’s a remarkable moment because people share the same vision. Leaders across the region have learned the same lessons. So the time is right!  Just as regional leaders did 50 years ago when planning Metro, we all must lock our arms, commit to a funding plan, and move forward together.”

Read the full interview!

Addressing the Funding Challenge

August 1st, 2013 No comments

Like many of the nation’s transit Capital Needs through 2025iagencies, Metro must rebuild its once-new capital assets as they wear down and deteriorate after decades of use. Metro could feasibly use every penny in its capital budget for years to come just reducing its backlog of maintenance issues. Moreover, Metro also needs to ensure that the system is able to overcome the capacity constraints that come with a regional population expected to swell in both the central core and the suburbs in the years ahead. And on top of this, Metro will need to address calls for entirely new service in many areas of the region. Once Metro is rehabilitated, the system will require a stable level of investment to maintain a state of good repair as it continues to age and deteriorate. Metro estimates that $1 billion (in 2012 dollars) per year is necessary to support and maintain the existing system, even after rehabilitation. Metro 2025 will expand the core and system capacity, as well as ensure that the region’s capital investments are successful. This requires an additional $500 million, on average, in annual capital funding through 2025.

Certainly, increases in the overall size and scope of the system will also have an impact on operating costs, which would grow to some degree when new rail cars, buses, and service are put in place. These operating costs may grow in line with the proportional size of system expansion or at a lower rate, especially if increases in reliability and the increased attractiveness of transit to today’s non-riders has a disproportionate effect on ridership, mode choice, and revenues for modes that have high farebox recovery ratios today and/or where existing demand is already delivering more revenue than operating costs.

Read more…

Critical Board Accomplishments

July 17th, 2013 No comments

Since 2010, the Board of Directors Grosvenor-Sta-night-121010-13has been laying the foundation to rebuild Metro itself.  From hiring a new General Manager to beginning the largest capital program since the inception of Metro, the Board has taken numerous actions to better equip the agency to succeed, including providing a stronger governance foundation.

Under the leadership of the Board, Metro has made substantial progress on improving system safety, reforming the agency’s governance, and stabilizing its finances

The Board has made strategic investments in infrastructure, equipment and workforce training, and developed policies that have markedly improved safety, as recognized by the NTSB and FTA and documented in the Authority’s publicly-reported Vital Signs score card.

Governance reforms undertaken over the last two years have modernized Board leadership, strengthened the Authority’s governing structure, improved the Board’s partnership with the General Manager/Chief Executive Officer, enhanced internal management, and prioritized public dialogue. The Board also adopted governance reform measures that strengthened its Code of Ethics and provided its first-ever bylaws, which detail the Board’s focus on policy, financial direction, oversight and Metro’s relationship with its customers and jurisdictional partners.

Read more…

Announcing 40 Days of Momentum!

June 13th, 2013 2 comments

Momentum CoverYou’ve been diligently telling us what you think our priorities should be and we’ve listened. We’ve been hard at work putting the final touches on Momentum: The Next Generation of Metro and Metro’s Board endorsed the plan today.

Starting Monday, over the following 40 weekdays, we’ll be rolling out the most interesting parts of the plan in daily posts here on PlanItMetro.

Monday Posts: Preparing for Tomorrow’s Region Today

Tuesday Posts: Metro’s Importance to the Region

Wednesday Posts: Metro’s Recent Accomplishments and Public Engagement

Thursday Posts: Strategies and Priority Actions to Make this Vision a Reality

Friday Posts: Metro 2025 – Seven Priority Capital Initiatives

If you want to read and download either the full Momentum plan or the Executive Summary, go right ahead. But if you want to stop back for a daily dose of Momentum, don’t be shy. If you notice something that strikes your fancy, leave us a comment.

Regional support is important to making Momentum a reality! A number of regional stakeholders have already endorsed Momentum. Please sign on and add your name to endorse Momentum and send the message that public transit is vital to the National Capital Region.




MindMixer – What Happens to All Your Comments and Ideas

November 21st, 2012 No comments

Since Metro’s MindMixer site opened on September 27th, the response has been overwhelming. To date, we’ve had over 425 participants provide more than 1900 votes, 450 comments, and115 ideason a range of topics. The first round of questions generated over 150 pages of comments alone! The site is expected to continue through the end of the year at a minimum, so please continue to join the conversation.

Metro is using MindMixer to start a conversation with our customers about how they envision the next generation of Metro. A quick review of the site shows a wide range of comments and ideas, some that are short-term and many that are very far in the future.

All comments and ideas are being reviewed as part of Momentum: The Next Generation of Metro, the agency’s strategic plan. Metro staff is responding to some of the comments and ideas as they are posted. Often this is to direct a participant to work that is already underway or to provide short responses or explanations of current policies. Other ideas have created discussions between participants, which is one of the main purposes for the site. The vast majority of ideas and comments require further study, more discussion of what is possible within Metro’s environment, and/or prioritization among other needs at Metro. Many of the ideas also require substantial resources to implement.

As the site continues, we are collating and summarizing your comments and ideas based on themes, such as core capacity, information provision, and non-Metro expansion.  This high level summary will be used to support Momentum, our strategic plan, as it provides an indication of the elements that are most important to you, our riders. We will also be taking comments directly from MindMixer to incorporate in the strategic plan document. As part of this blog, we will be further developing some of the ideas and comments to form the basis for a Metro 101 section on PlanItMetro. These posts will help increase the level of understanding of transit in this region. Lastly, for those ideas that require further study, they will be compiled and when MindMixer concludes, this information will be circulated to the respective Metro departments. This will help ensure that decision makers throughout the organization review the thoughtful ideas that have been provided on MindMixer.

MindMixer – What We Heard from the First Round of Question about Momentum: the Next Generation of Metro

November 16th, 2012 2 comments

The first round of MindMixer questions for Momentum: The Next Generation of Metro closed on October 26th. 370 people joined the conversation and posted over 90 ideas, 300 comments, and 1,600 votes. There were 4,300 visits to the site, of which 63% were unique visits. There were almost 24,000 page views and visitors stayed on the site for an average of five and a half minutes. The response was terrific and we’re excited to continue the conversation and new questions are currently on the site.

Who Commented

Mind Mixer responses by zipcode. Click for larger version.

Your fellow Metro riders who joined the conversation came from across the region.Below is a map of the number of participants by zip code.Participants ranged from 18 to over 65, with an average age of 36.5. 70% of participants were men.As our ridership is much more evenly split, we’d love to hear from more women, so please don’t be shy!Guys – please tell your female colleagues, friends, and family about the site and encourage them to comment.This month we are advertising on buses and in multiple English and non-English newspapers to further engage our riders, so keep an eye out.

What We Heard

We have compiled a summary of the vote tally from each first round question, as well as a summary of the themes of the comments within each question. The major takeaways for Metro were that our riders have a lot of interesting, creative ideas for small, short-term improvements to their daily ride, many of which could be inexpensive. Additionally, there is a desire for large infrastructure projects to expand the system, connect communities, and increase the capacity in the system core. We also noticed a need for a Metro 101 to better explain the basics of how Metro operates, as well as the pros and cons of ideas and concepts. Stay tuned to PlanItMetro for posts tagged as Metro 101.

Overall, the major themes we heard were:

  • Safety—repair and relieve crowding
  • Address core crowding first
    • More train frequency
    • Bus priority
    • Station entrances; faregates
  • More information
  • Integrate and connect other services, communities
  • Funding—long-term source