Tuesday is judgment day for transit items as county commissioners face delayed decisions
By Risa Polansky
After twice deferring potential fixes to what's projected to be a $9 billion-plus problem, county commissioners are to vote Tuesday on several postponed transit items, including proposed fare hikes and new distance-based rates.
This time, both August's recess and local election season will be behind them.
Commissioners in June refused to vote on the proposals, requesting a pro-forma list illustrating how current and future projects could be funded and maintained.
They decided again in July to defer a decision after being presented with the requested document, which revealed it would take $9.4 billion over 30 years to both support the existing transit system and build all planned expansions.
Better to vote in September after taking the summer to digest the information, they said.
Still, without new revenue mechanisms, they agreed to apply by a July 31 initial deadline for federal funds for a planned North Corridor Metrorail.
The feds withdrew funding once before, doubting the county could afford to maintain service and operate the new project.
Citizens' Independent Transit Trust members later criticized resubmitting with no new strategies in place. Chairman Miles Moss called it a "waste of time."
Commissioners decided it was better than nothing. "However bad it is, we should be at the table," Chairman Bruno Barreiro said in July.
Final application deadline is Sept. 5.
Proposed revenue-generating items to be taken up Sept. 2 include:
A 50-cent fare increase for Metrobus and Metrorail.
Establishing distance-based or peak and non-peak fare rates.
Studying the restoration of two cents to the 1993 five-cent capital improvements local option gas tax.
Upping monthly Metrorail parking from $6.25 to $10.