- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 16, 2004

Metro board members looking to ease financial stress caused by new services and train stations yesterday approved a 10.4 percent increase in subsidies paid by the District and the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.

The board approved the increase despite the reluctance of a Maryland board member, who said the increase would be too burdensome.

“I cannot sit here in good conscience and vote [for the increase]” said board member Charles Deegan, chief of equipment maintenance in the Prince George’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation. His was the lone dissenting vote.

“There’s so much money that seems to go down the drain with [Metro]. A 10.4 percent increase would be a real tough sale,” Mr. Deegan said, referring to his jurisdiction.

The local jurisdictions will absorb the entire $41.7 million spending gap in Metro’s proposed $1 billion budget for fiscal 2006 to avoid a third straight year of fare increases.

Metro board member Gladys W. Mack agreed that the subsidy increase is “very significant,” but said such a move was necessary because there is no proper funding source and that another fare raise is undesired.

One cost-cutting measure of the board — the short-lived switch to two-car trains — was put to rest officially yesterday when the members approved the budget committee’s Sept. 10 decision to stop running the shorter trains.

The transit system had run the two-car subway trains after 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday for five days in late June.

Metro officials reverted to running the regular four-car trains after receiving numerous complaints from riders about overcrowded cars and being stranded on platforms.

The shorter trains would have saved Metro $1 million yearly.

“As I’ve said before, the [switch] demonstrates how hard we’ve worked to find savings,” Mrs. Mack said. “We’re going to continue to try and find savings and ways to generate revenue. If a miscalculation is made, we’ll try our best to correct it.”

Part of the reason for the transit agency’s budget woes is that three new stations are scheduled to open before the end of the year.

The New York Avenue station was given an official opening date yesterday after the transit agency’s board was told that the station’s construction was ahead of schedule.

The New York Avenue-Florida Avenue-Gallaudet U station, located between Union Station and Rhode Island Avenue on Metro’s Red Line, will open Nov. 20.

Mrs. Mack called the opening a “milestone.”

“The opening of this station is another step in our commitment to promote economic development and prosperity in all our neighborhoods throughout D.C.,” she said.

The location of the station, the 84th in the system, was driven by the fact that it is in a commercial section of the city that has redevelopment potential.

Metro anticipates daily ridership to increase by 6,600 passengers because of the new station. The average weekday ridership on the Red Line is 240,000.

Construction for the $103.7 million project began in November 2002. During the Labor Day weekend, workers completed the realignment and installation of the new inbound track through the station. All Red Line trains running from Glenmont and Silver Spring now pass through the station.

The board yesterday also finalized an opening date for the Blue Line’s extension to the Largo Town Center. Starting Dec. 18, the line will run beyond Addison Road-Seat Pleasant with two new stops, Morgan Boulevard and Largo Town Center stations.

The planning committee also approved building a $13.5 million light rail line for Anacostia. The 2.7-mile line would cost $8 million for the train cars and $5.5 million for the land.

The line would run from Pennsylvania Avenue SE to Bolling Air Force Base.

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