The mismanaged Washington, D.C. Metro system is pushing through huge fare hikes, not only increasing subway and bus fares, but adding a new 20 percent additional surcharge for rush hour.
But it’s refusing to engage in any sensible cost-cutting, such as service cuts that few passengers would ever notice, like ending subway service after 2 a.m. on weekends that results in virtually empty trains (but more high-paid work for unionized D.C. Metro employees).
Metro is almost unbelievably indulgent towards incompetent employees, who are allowed to drive buses despite a steady stream of accidents and traffic violations. Many Metro employees have $100,000-plus compensation and incredibly generous pensions.
Metro’s Board includes Chris Zimmerman, an Arlington County Board member and tool of the public-employee unions who recently raised Arlington County taxes 10 percent to increase government spending in the middle of a recession, and take the Arlington County government on a billion-dollar spending spree. Lazy board members like Zimmerman have long refused to conduct vigorous oversight over the Metro system or ask necessary and probing questions of incompetent D.C. Metro employees, which might offend their transit union.
The public interest takes a back seat to union special interests at the national level as well. The Obama administration wants airline security and Amtrak to become more like Washington’s inefficient Metro, by increasing the power of unions and making it harder to get rid of problem employees.
A study found that the TSA is more than twice as likely to fail to detect a bomb as the private security firms it replaced. And TSA’s failure rate is three or four times as high as the few remaining private firms still allowed to handle airline security. In tests, TSA failed to detect fake bombs 60 percent of the time at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, and 75 percent of the time in Los Angeles. Yet the Obama administration backs collective bargaining for the TSA, even though collective bargaining makes it even harder to get rid of lazy employees and demand high performance. The Obama administration is also undermining the security of railroad passengers by gutting an expert, highly-rated, anti-terror agency at Amtrak, which Amtrak’s unions hate, despite its efficiency, because it is not unionized.
D.C.’s Metro engages in massive racial discrimination in employment against non-black applicants. Its workforce statistics go well beyond giving rise to a prima facie case of intentional, pattern-or-practice discrimination under the Supreme Court’s Teamsters decision. (Note that I said “intentional.” I am not talking about “disparate impact” or advocating racial proportionality or quotas relative to the general population. Disclosure: I used to bring discrimination class-actions before working at CEI.)