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Bad Business Practice of the Day

October 8, 2007

There has been much talk in the DC area lately about a potential hike in the fares charged by WMATA for Metro tickets, bus tickets, and parking at Metro-owned lots. Arguing the case for the increases on their website, WMATA says:

This year, in an effort to cut back on excess costs and operate as efficiently as possible without sacrificing service, Metro made significant organizational cuts and implemented new cost saving measures. However, operating costs continue to skyrocket, and we estimate our organizational cutbacks and current funding structure do not provide enough funds to cover future operating budgets.

Without a fare increase, or a dramatic increase in subsidies from local government, Metro would be forced to make significant service reductions.

Sounds reasonable. Metro fares have not increased in a long time, and perhaps they are due to updated a little. But then, the Washington Post runs an article on the amount of wastefulness at WMATA headquarters:

At Metro’s headquarters in downtown Washington, the lights pop on at 5:30 every weekday morning. Hours before the masses arrive for work, the building glows like a silent, hulking eight-story spaceship.

Every evening, most employees go home at 5, but the lights stay on for three more hours, bright enough that passersby can see the artwork in individual offices. No “Starry Night,” apparently.

Workers worried about global warming — or Metro’s budget deficit — might be inclined to turn the lights off when they’re not needed, but they can’t. Metro offices have no individual switches.

Used to be, the lights were on all the time. About two decades ago, Metro installed a computer system to control them, which was considered energy-efficient at that time, officials said.

The Post article goes on to talk about an energy audit done on WMATA by Pepco Energy. The audit reports that

Metro could save $4 million a year if upgrades were made to lighting, heating, cooling and other systems that serve the buildings, maintenance facilities, bus garages and subway stations, according to Pepco Energy’s initial energy audit. The audit covered headquarters, a bus garage, a Metrorail station and the sprawling Carmen Turner training center in Landover.

The audit’s bottom line: Metro could save enough in energy costs to pay for equipment upgrades over 10 years.

It appears they are not “running as efficiently as possible.” If I can’t believe WMATA when they say they are cutting costs on their end, how am I supposed to believe them when they say a fare hike is necessary?

One Comment leave one →
  1. K-Diggity permalink*
    October 9, 2007 1:44 pm

    Since moving here about 4 months ago I have noticed something: WMATA says something and basically everyone just laughs at their horrible excuses.

    There is this huge push from the Capital Metro area to use the trains. Signs all over the highways “events downtown, avoid delays, use metro”.

    Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I usually experience the MOST delays using the rail system. 20 minutes between trains. Track sharing (this is the worst). Hot as FUCK underground stations (the Pentagon City stop is routinely twice as humid as the air outside and probably close to 100 degrees almost constantly).

    Last Saturday morning the yellow line was down at U-Street, of course, so there was track sharing. The one nice thing about this is that I wasn’t charged for my trip. I saved a whopping $1.35 and waited an extra 15 minutes, so it’s only an even trade at best.

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