Metro consultant spending: WMATA spends $51 million on consultants

(AP, WJLA) - A newspaper report says Metro is paying more than $51 million to consultants to help better run the transit agency.

The Washington Examiner, citing data obtained through a public records request, says Metro is spending $51.9 million on current consulting contracts with 18 different companies.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel says the figure represents about 2 percent of the agency's budget for fiscal year 2012 and has no impact on fares.

Metro says consultants play a critical role in quickly and correctly solving a problem or improving a product.

Among the things that the consultants are analyzing are escalators, fare cards and crafting requests for other outside contracts to help keep the transit system running.

Stessel says the agency is trying to use the consultants in a way where they "augment in-house staff." He says Metro will try to hire personnel and develop them if there is a long-term need for a certain skill.

Long-time Metro rider David Bratton says he sees both sides of the equation.

"Everybody now and then has to go outside the box to get things done when they want 'em done," Bratton said.

But other riders remained skeptical.

"If you can show us improvements yeah, go up on the fare, but right now they are not improving the system," said rider Larry Minor.