Rep. Gerry Connolly wants to know if the federal government would have been able to stay open during this winter’s snows if the area’s public transportation system was adequately funded.
The Metro, Washington D.C.’s subway system, has suspended or limited above-ground rail service since Friday, contributing to Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry’s decision to close the federal government Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Hundreds of thousands commute on Metro daily, and suspension of rail and bus service makes it nearly impossible for many to make it to work.
Connolly, a Democrat who represents suburban cities in Northern Virginia, sent letters to Berry and Metro General Manager John Catoe Tuesday, asking if additional funding for Metro overtime and equipment could have prevented the federal government’s closing.
In the letter to Catoe, Connolly wrote:
With more than 40 percent of federal employees dependent on Metro to travel to and from work and with nearly half of all Metro stations located on federal property, the federal government has more than a passing interest in the safety and reliability of the Metro system … Applying these lessons to subsequent storms or disasters could improve the ability of Metro to respond and recover more quickly and help the federal government and other regional employers maintain continuity of operations and reduce productivity losses associated with employees’ inability to travel.”
Connolly also encouraged Berry to expand federal employees’ access to telework programs.
I believe that a more robust telework program could negate some of those productivity losses in the future, saving federal agencies untold millions. Furthermore it is my hope that we can use this recent snow emergency to reinforce the importance of telework reforms that we are pursuing while demonstrating specific steps that can be taken to improve implementation of telework programs in the future.”