Metro meeting: SmarTrip issue tabled, Blue/Orange work moves ahead, extra security added to bus depots
- (Jay Westcott)
We just came from this morning's Metro committee hearings. A quick rundown of what happened:
• The all-important SmarTrip issue was tabled, which isn't surprising. WMATA officials can't quite figure this one out. Dropping the price of a SmarTrip card to $2.50 is looking increasingly unlikely, as the board frets over issues we've discussed here before. Today they discussed the eight or so options they've come up with, which revolve around different card prices ($5, $4, or $2.50), software issues, and the ability or inability for a rider to go "negative." The long and the short, don't be surprised if they ultimately go with "option G," a.k.a. "status quo," or no change to the current system, in which case there's been a lot of discussion about nothing at all.
• The finance committee endorsed a plan to hire 17 more special police officers and get more involved in a national "explosives detection" dog program. The new cops will be posted up at Metrobus facilities, to the tune of about $900,000 annually. The added security is largely in response to a July incident where a gentleman stole a bus out of the Bladesnburg depot and crashed it into a tree several miles away. So bus-driver impostors, beware. As for the doggie issues, Metro will be getting a $1 million grant from TSA to help maintain its K-9 teams.
• The major overhaul for the Blue and Orange lines is moving ahead. The committee endorsed awarding a 6-year, $272.7 million contract to rehab the lines between Reagan National and New Carrollton, covering 23 stations and 27 miles of track. They'll be doing everything from duct and escalator work to reconstructing platforms and rehabbing station domes. Expensive and painful, yes, but also necessary.