WASHINGTON - Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld is working to make Metro strong and safe again, but in order to do that, funds are needed.
So far, Wiedefeld has cut jobs, reduced service and raised fares, but he says it will take an injection of money for years to help run the transportation system. On Wednesday, Wiedefeld took the issue to the U.S. Capitol.
Members of Congress appeared to see progress with the SafeTrack program, and there have been some hard budget decisions that have been made. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton said Wednesday that the federal government has come up short in the past in helping the system that carries so many federal employees.
“There is a missing partner, let’s just call him a free rider, the federal government. Every other actor that depends on Metro contributes to WMATA. I don’t know how long the federal government thinks it can get away without doing so,” Norton expressed during the House Oversight Hearing.
The chairman of the oversight subcommittee, Mark Meadows, told Wiedefeld he would join the local delegation to support funding, but he indicated that he did not want to do it alone.
“To the board, to the unions, to each one of you that are here representing WMATA – is it going to take a joint, combined effort to get this right? I’m willing to help in a bipartisan way and I think the members of this committee are willing to help in a bipartisan way from a congressional standpoint, but I don’t want to feel like I’m getting way out on a limb,” Meadow explained.
Wiedefeld was asked how much it will take each year to run the system as it should, including maintenance costs. He didn't have an exact number, but said he was in the process of putting that together and would be making that public in the next month or two.