- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2017

Increasing revenue dominated much of Metro’s first committee meetings of the fiscal year, while board members discussed internal reforms that could pave the way to dedicated taxpayer funding.

Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans told reporters that most members oppose any proposal to raise fares after a series of meetings Thursday.

“We should look everywhere for us to find revenue opportunities which will help with our financial condition,” said board member Malcolm Augustine, who represents Maryland.

“We’re scraping the barrel,” said Tom Bulger, who represents the District. “The critics can call us whatever they want, but we need revenue for next year’s budget.”

The Capital Program, Planning and Real Estate Committee approved six proposals that would raise an additional $8 million per year from Metro’s parking facilities.

The committee approved expanding weekday hours, charging for weekend parking, raising parking fees for non-riders, charging more for parking during special events, leasing parking spaces and permitting the sale of food and beverages on weekends and holidays at parking facilities, among other proposals.

Nina Albert, Metro director of real estate and station planning, said the proposals will “maximize the value” of parking facility assets.

Metro has 61,280 parking stalls, but only an average of 42,000 daily parkers in fiscal year 2016, generating $45 million in revenues.

Ms. Albert estimated that Metro would have earned an extra $500,000 in one day if a $5 special event fee had been charged during the Women’s March in January.

Meanwhile, Metro Assistant General Manager Lynn Bowersox said that granting commercial naming rights for stations could net millions of advertising revenue for Metro. The stations with the most potential are Gallery Place, Navy Yard-Ballpark, Metro Center and L’Enfant Plaza.

“The [station] name change sound really good until this happens: What if the Trump Organization offers us $10 million to rename Federal Triangle the Trump Metro Stop at the Trump Hotel?” Mr. Evans, a Democrat, said to reporters. “$10 million. Should we do it? Now that would be an outcry.”

Selling station naming rights currently violates Metro’s policies. The Customer Service, Operations and Security Committee did not vote on any formal actions, but board members gave vocal approval for Metro’s management to explore the market potential.

The Governance Committee approved bylaw revisions that trim the number of committees and cut the number of board members who sit on committees.

General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s plan for Metro calls for $15.5 billion in capital funding over the next 10 years to pay for new and rebuilt railcars and buses, tracks, safety improvements and other items. It includes a bondable $500 million per year of dedicated capital funding from the regional governments and an additional $150 million annually from the federal government.

Metro is the only major public transportation system in the U.S. without a dedicated source of funding.

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