- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tired of frequent breakdowns, delays and back-to-back fare increases, two Metro riders have formed a watchdog group for the Washington area’s transit system.

Kevin Moore and Jack Corbett officially launched Metro-Riders.org yesterday. They are calling for an independent review of Metro operations, budget and management. They also plan to push for adequate funding for the chronically cash-poor transit agency.

“There’s a crisis of confidence in the system,” said Mr. Moore, an unpaid adviser for nonprofit groups.

He and Mr. Corbett, an aviation lawyer, met on an Internet discussion group Mr. Moore started in August that has attracted about 300 people.

The group also is asking the system’s more than 1 million riders to contact local elected leaders and urge them not to scrimp on funding the system.

“State and local governments cannot solve Metro’s problems primarily by increasing charges to riders,” Mr. Corbett said.

In the short term, Mr. Corbett said, they plan to lobby congressional leaders for more federal funding for Metro. The founders also support regional efforts to find dedicated sources of funding.

A special Metro panel has been looking at taxes to help pay for the system and is expected to release its recommendations next month.

As they get more volunteers, donations and grants, the founders expect to fine-tune their agenda. They are asking for $15 donations from riders.

They already may have had an effect. The group met with Richard A. White, Metro’s chief executive officer, last week, and he plans to propose their suggestion of an independent review to a Metro board committee on Thursday, Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato said.

“We look forward to working with the group as part of our ongoing efforts to engage with our customers,” Miss Asato said.

There hasn’t been a rider advocacy group since 1998, when the volunteer-run Metro Watch disbanded. Some other cities with public transportation have similar organizations, including the 25-year-old Straphangers Campaign in New York.

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