>It looks like to present the long-term funding issue to stakeholders, all WMATA would have to do is update the 2003 “Metro Matters” campaign information and hit “resend”. It’s the same issue as five years ago, but with larger numbers, including a 32-year-old system instead of a 27-year-old system.
Last time, WMATA cut a proposed $12 billion 10-year capital improvement plan down to $1.5 billion over 6 years (2004-2009), then divided up the funding requirements by jurisdiction, creating the “Metro Matters” program. For FY 2008, Metro Matters provided around $500 million in infrastructure renewal and capital investment, including upgrades to the Metrorail system to allow 8-car service, renewing rolling stock and track structures, and rehabilitating bus rolling stock and maintenance facilities.
Now that the program is about to end, we need to at least find the money to fund at the same level we’ve been at for the past six years. Last time, we cut a $12 billion dollar capital need down to $1.5 billion of “bare bones” needs. We continue to have a $11.1 billion dollar capital need for the long term health of the system.
This time, if we fail to purchase enough rail cars, for example, the old 1000-series cars will be at the end of their design life, and will have to be retired. These 296 revenue service cars represent about 27% of the operating fleet. Imagine all 6 car trains suddenly operating as 4 car trains, or all 8 car trains as 6’s. Fortunately for WMATA, the next set of train cars is much fewer (76), about a decade newer (1981), and was rehabilitated just a couple of years ago.
This is a big funding priority for WMATA, though I don’t know where the money is going to come from. Stay tuned.