- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 25, 2007

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Metro’s general manager is urging Maryland lawmakers to contribute $50 million in annual funds that could help the mass-transit system attract a $1.5 billion increase from the federal government.

General Manager John B. Catoe Jr. went to the state capital last week as Metro made another pitch for a regionwide effort to provide a guaranteed stream of revenue.

As part of a congressional bill introduced by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, Virginia Republican, Metro would receive $1.5 billion for capital improvement projects, but only if Maryland, Virginia and the District each provide $50 million a year over the next decade.

The District approved the funding last year, but Maryland and Virginia have not followed.

Mr. Catoe, who last month became Metro’s general manager, said he assured top officials in Annapolis of his sound fiscal plan for the agency.

“It was mainly just to be there to say how important Maryland is to us and to assure them we’re putting in performance measures, so they go forward with a budget that considers Metro,” he said.

Maryland lawmakers had questions about Metro’s safety measures after a series of accidents, including a derailment last month that injured 20 passengers on the Green Line near the Mount Vernon Square/Seventh Street-Convention Center station.

Metro buses have been involved in the deaths of four pedestrians this year, prompting Mr. Catoe to announce mandatory safety training for drivers.

Officials also are investigating a report of an accident Saturday afternoon in which a Metro bus hit a stroller carrying a child.

The child was treated and released at a hospital. Metro spokeswoman Cathy Asato said the mother told authorities that the stroller was hit in the District at about 5:15 p.m., knocking her 3-year-old daughter to the ground.

She also said the stroller was hit by the back of the bus as it turned a corner at the intersection of Half and O streets Southwest. Miss Asato said the driver apparently did not realize what happened and failed to stop. The mother then boarded another Metro bus and reported the incident.

Mr. Catoe has said he wants the safety overhaul at the agency to be led by an outside company and to be similar to a five-year program at the Los Angeles system, for which he worked.

Increasing Metro fares would be a last resort for the budget, Mr. Catoe told The Washington Times last week and said as part of his testimony before a Maryland House Appropriations subcommittee.

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