- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2001

The House transportation committee chairman yesterday said he will make Metro change the name of the subway stop at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
U.S. Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican, made his vow after the transit agencys board yesterday declined to act on 23 other Republican House members request for the name change.
"This is going to be resolved. Its just a matter of how it gets done," said Mr. Young, chairman of the House Infrastructure and Transportation Committee. "If legislation is needed to get the correct name changed on Metros signs, then Ill look at that option."
Meanwhile, Metro board member Jim Graham yesterday withdrew his request to retrofit Metrobuses with "Taxation Without Representation" license plates after some board members had threatened to vote against it.
But Mr. Graham, Ward 1 Democrat on the D.C. Council, said the buses will carry the Taxation plates within two years, when Metro gets new buses and re-registers its old ones. All Metrobuses are registered in the District, and the taxation plates are the standard issue plates for all vehicles.
Mr. Young said Metros board, which did not discuss the Reagan issue during its meeting yesterday, should have handled the issue "administratively," adding that "its unfortunate that Congress may have to legislate a minor matter."
"Its a matter that needs to be cleared up," he said in a prepared statement.
Senior congressional aides said Mr. Young has many options to compel Metro to change the airport stops name.
"They are going out of their way to cause problems. They are picking a fight when they really shouldnt be," one senior House aide said of Metros board.
The aides said Mr. Young, who himself had requested that Metro change the stations name, could force the transit agency by law or withhold funding for expansion projects such as extending the Blue Line to Largo, providing rail service to Dulles and buying new railcars and buses.
More likely though, an aide said, Mr. Young will "just tell them to do it."
The Washington Times first reported in October that Metro had no intention of changing the stations name, and Mr. Young floated the idea of introducing legislation to force the name change, even providing $150,000 for the makeover.
However, the powerful committee chairman who has been an outspoken supporter of honoring Mr. Reagan most likely will not give Metro a cent to make the change, an aide said.
The Republican-controlled House will likely go along with Mr. Youngs efforts as long as he does not threaten regional transportation funding since it would put Republican members of the areas congressional delegation in the position of taking sides, the aide said.
"The airport name itself passed, so Id think it would have a pretty decent chance of passing," one area House Republican aide said.
The Times reported last month that Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, was threatening to tie up Metro funding if the stations name was not changed.
After Metro officials said the cost of revising signs, maps and literature systemwide would cost $400,000, Mr. Barr said he would compromise by requiring only changing the stations signs — which would cost about $150,000 — until the Red Line New York Avenue station is completed in 2004.
The Times reported Wednesday that 21 other House Republicans joined in Mr. Barrs fight for the name change. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican, also had written to Metro General Manager Richard A. White supporting the change.
Two local Democratic congressmen — Reps. James P. Moran Jr. of Virginia and Albert R. Wynn — had sent letters asking that the change not be made.
Mr. Barr yesterday expressed anger over Metro's inaction and reiterated his threat of withhold transit agency funds.
"I fully expect todays actions by the Metro Board will be reviewed by Congress in its proper context during the appropriations process later this year," he said in a statement.
Mr. White officially told the board of Mr. Barrs and others' request so that the boards six voting members could vote on it.
No board member made a motion to take up the name-change request yesterday.
"Since there is no motion for the change," said board Chairman Decatur W. Trotter, a Democrat and former Maryland state senator. "The name change will not be approved at the time."
Metro policy requires the jurisdiction in which the station is located — in this case, Arlington County — to ask for a stations name be changed. Board member Christopher E. Zimmerman, a Democrat and an Arlington County supervisor, has longed voiced his opposition to the name change.
The other voting board member representing Virginia, Fairfax County Supervisor Dana Kauffman, a Democrat, also declined to make a motion on the issue.
"We have set the chord, set that tone, that we are about operating a bus and rail service not about being an advertisement for any ones cause," Mr. Kauffman said after the meeting, referring to the boards rejection of changing the stations name and the new license plates.
Congress, which created the transit agency in 1967, can also make requests or make Metro make a name change via legislation.
"The signs are accurate as they are now," said Mr. Zimmerman after the meeting. "Its best that we not get ourselves involved in partisan politics."
Mr. Trotter said after the meeting that the board had to "defeat" the request "in order to keep the integrity of our operation and the integrity of the system."

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