Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Purple Line Costs Up 28%; Ridership Down 2500; Money Taken from MARC

The Washington Examiner reports that MTA says that cost estimates for the Purple Line have risen 28% since the plan got past the phase of consideration by the public:

It also now has a $1.925 billion price tag, up from $1.5 billion estimates made two years ago.
MTA Executive Director of Transit Development and Delivery Henry blamed the increase on the complexity of the New Starts process and the State's lack of familiarity with it:

The project is delayed because the application for federal funding has been more time-consuming than expected, said Henry Kay, MTA's executive director of transit development and delivery. He said the state hasn't applied for such federal New Starts funding in a long time.

"It got a lot more complicated while we were out of the room," Kay said.

That, in turn, has caused the costs to rise, he said.

They plan to makeup some of the gap by taking funds away from another public transit option: MARC.

State officials are still trying to line up funding for the project -- the federal funding is not guaranteed -- but they said they plan to use $135 million that was previously set aside for MARC commuter trains to pay for a portion of the Purple Line instead.

Meanwhile, projected ridership of the new line has declined:
Ridership was projected to be about 62,500 riders per day.

Now ridership is expected to be slightly lower at 60,000.

No reportage on the impact on Montgomery County's share of the cost, or the impact of these changes on the battle for vital federal funds.