Rendering of a proposed Silver Line station in Tysons Corner. Courtesy of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.
"We're in the age of Metro now. I think people get it . . . you don't really have to sell people on the Metro. You have to find the funding." - Congressman Al Wynn (D-Dist. 4), in a JUTP interview last JuneThe Bush administration has put the kibosh on Metro's Silver Line - which, as you may know, would go out to Tysons Corner, Dulles Airport and beyond. Citing the project's cost-effectiveness and Metro's currently deteriorating service, the Federal Transit Administration refused Virginia's request for $900 million in funding, despite years of planning and cost-trimming to meet their demands.
I am heartbroken. It's like high school all over again - I try to win a girl's heart with flowers, candy and sappy poems only to find out she wasn't really interested, now if not ever. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters, you are a maneater.
So far, the Purple Line has had to battle with an exclusive country club, a state university, and a gauntlet of civic associations from Bethesda to Takoma Park. If a line connecting the D.C. region to its second-largest job center and its major international airport can't pass muster with The Feds . . . will the Purple Line do any better when it goes up for review in a couple of years?
Maybe. At $1.6 billion, the Purple Line's price tag is roughly a third of the Silver Line's estimated $5 billion cost. With as many as 47,000 expected daily riders (warning! PDF file) by 2035 - compared to 91,200 daily riders on the Silver by 2025 - the Purple Line has a lower cost-per-rider, making it a stronger investment for the perenially cash-strapped FTA.
Peters, who with FTA chief James Simpson holds the purse-strings, recently said she believes the federal government shouldn't be paying for highways and transit - if only because some of the things they spend money on, like bike trails, "really are not transportation" to her. Perhaps major transit projects like the Silver Line and Purple Line should be designed and built by the private sector if our national transportation policy is being shaped by somebody so bull-headed.