- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Yeah! The board of the regional mass transit agency known as Metro is finally getting around to what matters, now that safety and maintenance concerns are being routinely tending to — reforming itself from within and ginning up ways to generate new revenue streams without opening the floodgates to the naming rights maze.

The accolades aren’t meant to suggest, however, that Metro authorities aren’t still bogging themselves down with extraneous issues.

Prime example: The board distracted itself from a key issue, parking fees, by diddling with Title VI.

Now, you know, Title VI is the federal anti-bias law. Metro, like other mass transit authorities, receives federal dollars — meaning that taxpayers who live in Malibu, Manhattan and Kansas in Middle America pay for the D.C. regional system.

Anyway, when the topic of the considerable n-e-w revenue Metro could generate by raising parking fees, the board learned, among other things, that officials would be analyzing riders’ and motorists’ demographics through the lenses of Title VI.

So, it no longer matters whether you have enough dead presidents to pay your fees and fares? And whether you’re black or white or Hispanic and park in a Metro lot does matter?

Absurd and irrelevant.

What’s relevant is that Metro needs cash money to bolster its coffers, and Metro needs it now.

Here’s what the board needs to check off its to-do list ASAP.

The highlights of the parking issue include:

Allowing flea markets, vendors and other community groups to hold events in the parking lots.

The simple and obvious answer is yes. Examples include Eastern Market, the public sidewalks and the adjacent parking lot of the old Hine Junior High.

The RFK Stadium lot is another. Consumers can purchase fresh produce and prepared food. (Security comes at a cost.)

Convenience for all at a reasonable public price. (Again, security isn’t free.)

Ending free parking on weekends.

Just do it.

Metro is a pay-as-you-go transit system. You park, you pay, you go. Regardless of the time of day, day of the week or choice of lot vs. garage.

Period.

Raising rates for special events.

Well, Metro would never thank Donald Trump or even Barack Obama for drawing huge crowds of hellions and celebrants for inaugural events. Facts, however, are facts.

People came in droves to see and hear for themselves, and now Metro is crying over spilled milk.

Stop, focus and calculate: How could Metro better serve the public for such public affairs? With flat-fee park-and-bus fares, like Metro used to offer in Landover for Washington Redskins games at FedEx?

Getting people from Point A to Point B no longer is rocket science, as George Stephenson and Cornelius Vanderbilt proved in the 1800s.

Filling public coffers isn’t difficult either.

Metro still needs to prove itself by riding the rails of safe, secure and dependable.

The board also has to tighten its own ship by winnowing how it oversees issues, and it needs to stop overthinking revenue.

As long as the unions are prohibited from shutting down Metro during a strike or “blue flu” sickout, people are going to depend on Metro, whose No. 1 attribute is convenience.

Besides, Metro employees depend as much on Metro parking lots and garages as Metro riders do. (Wink, wink.)

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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