Staff editorial: Whether Amazon comes or not, a better Metro is a win-win for everybody

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A subway train arrives at the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metrorail station. (Brian Kapur/The Current/July 2017)

The Washington, D.C. area is very fortunate that three of the 20 areas where Amazon is considering building its second headquarters with thousands of high-paying jobs are in our metropolitan area.

Our friends in Virginia appeared to be completely uninterested in insuring that our subway system has $500 million in badly-needed guaranteed annual financing until Amazon’s management indicated that a strong subway system was a major ingredient in its decision-making process as to where they would locate that second headquarters.

Maryland had been somewhat interested in providing guaranteed financing for Metro, but the possibility of Amazon being located here made the governor and legislature far more interested than they had been.

D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, along with several council members, wrote Mayor Muriel Bowser urging that the guaranteed financing provided by Virginia, Maryland and the District be equal. He told The Current he wrote the letter to help Mayor Bowser better negotiate with Maryland and Virginia about the financing. Doing so, in our opinion, was a wise action so that our mayor would be in a stronger position to tell our Virginia and Maryland partners that equal funding is the way to go.

Unfortunately, things did not work out that way. The District will have to make a slightly bigger contribution to the guaranteed financing than either Virginia or Maryland. As soon as it was apparent that this was so, Mendelson wisely agreed immediately.

Our subway system is a key, if not the key, to the long-term economic success of the District, as well as the rest of the metropolitan area. While it would have been fairer for each of the three major jurisdictions to make equal contributions, we are all far better off now that a formula has been found to get Metro the financing it so badly needs.