- Christopher Zimmerman (TBD)
Yesterday afternoon Metro board member Christopher Zimmerman shocked his colleagues and Metro officials when he announced he would be stepping down after 13 years. Zimmerman told reporters afterward that at this point he felt he could do more for the agency from the outside, particularly in his posts on the Arlington County Board, the Transportation Planning Board, and the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.
Before he left the board room, Zimmerman gave an assessment of the state of Metro that was both candid and dour, essentially saying the system isn't equipped to meet its challenges even in the near future. We didn't want his remarks to get lost in the news of his departure:
When you chronically and persistently underfund an agency like this, it’s not going to perform the way you want it to…. We were joking about Moscow in there, but the fact is they’re devoting substantially more resources to their transit system. Places like Paris and London. They put substantially more resources into operating and maintaining those systems. If you want the kind of results that everyone expects here then you’re going to have to make that investment….
It’s a good opportunity [for me] to make the switch. I’m not quitting on Metro. I’m going to be very much involved. Arlington has a big stake in this….
Every time I’ve been here it’s been a challenging time. The question is how can I best help. The challenges Metro faces now are going to require more action from the outside than the inside. We need to really get people focused on what it is that’s necessary to have a world-class transit system operate in this region. They can’t do it from the inside under the current terms. If we don’t have a stronger commitment from the region and from the federal government, then there’s nothing the general manager and the staff here can do to handle the problems that concern people, or to meet the growth that is forecast that will doubtless make things worse in another five years and certainly ten years.
Every forecast is saying that we’re not on a trajectory to meet those challenges and there’s nothing they can do here without significant help from the outside.