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At today's meeting of Metro's Planning, Real Estate, and Development Committee, a proposal to relocate the buses currently operating out of the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M to other garages throughout the region was first not supported, then ultimately forwarded to the full WMATA board without a committee recommendation.
The Maryland and Virginia representatives on the committee balked at having to shoulder some additional operating costs of $1 million a year through 2010 in order to relocate the buses (DC's share would be about $2 million a year), saying basically that baseball is a DC amenity, and so any issue with needing to be out of the garage to "accommodate" baseball is DC's problem.
Board member and DC council member Jim Graham, along with Metro General Manager John Catoe, emphasized that attempting to continue the garage's operations during baseball games, with the street closures and large numbers of pedestrians, would be impossible to do safely; Catoe also commented that the current operation of the garage is not safe "by any stretch of the imagination."
Graham also reminded the committee that the construction of a new garage at DC Village is dependent on the using the proceeds from the sale of the current garage, and even suggested that a decision not to allow the relocation of the buses in essence scuttles the sale of the garage, an interesting comment coming just as the committee was about to go into executive session to discuss the winner of the garage sale Request for Proposals.
It was also mentioned by someone (I didn't recognize the voice) that there is no "no-action no-cost" alternative; if the buses don't get relocated, and if it's decided not to build temporary facilities elsewhere until the DC Village site is ready, there will be an additional $1 million a year in costs for the rental of the employee parking lot at the Pepco site at Buzzards Point, which apparently the DC government has been paying but will become Metro's responsibility starting in 2008. And, if the sale of the site were to go forward without relocating the buses, Metro would have to pay a "leaseback" cost to the new owners, which Graham indicated he would adamantly oppose.
After initially voting not to support the recommendation to relocate the buses, the committee reconsidered that vote and decided to forward the relocation proposal to the full board at its Sept. 27 meeting without a committee recommendation, when "hopefully we'll have more information," according to one board member.
You can listen to the discussion, and look at the proposal. And mark your calendars for the 27th. (That's the same day that the WMATA Finance Committee will be meeting in a special session before the board meeting to further discuss the fare increases that has everyone all roiled, so who knows the board will actually meet that day.)

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