Virginia, Maryland, DC commit $75 million to Metro’s “Momentum” plan

Capitol South Metro

Capitol South at rush hour (Metro photo by Larry Levine)

Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles today applauded an increased capital commitment of $75 million by Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray, saying that it marked an important down payment towards Metro’s “Momentum” strategic plan to reduce crowding and add system capacity.

The funding announcement was made jointly by the region’s three leaders today following a National Capital Regional Meeting in Arlington.

“Thanks to the strong leadership of Mayor Gray and Governors O’Malley and McAuliffe, we can continue our rebuilding efforts and lay the foundation for all eight-car trains, with power upgrades, Union Station and Gallery Place station expansion designs, and buses for priority corridors.” said Metro General Manager and CEO Richard Sarles.

Momentum is Metro’s vision for the future. Building on the important Metro Forward capital program which is virtually rebuilding the system and making key safety and reliability improvements, the strategic plan addresses growing crowding and outlines near-term goals for 2025 along with the steps that Metro must take to prepare for coming regional population and economic growth. Importantly, the plan ensures that Metro never returns to a time when the system’s tracks, escalators, trains and buses, are not maintained to today’s safety and reliability standards. For riders, Momentum will mean more trains, reduced crowding, faster buses, brighter, safer, easier-to-navigate Metrorail stations, and improved customer information systems.

“We have now crossed the halfway point of our Metro Forward rebuilding effort, improved on-time performance, increased escalator availability, reduced employee injuries and are preparing for the next generation of railcars later this year,” said Metro Board Chair Tom Downs. “None of these successes would be possible without the extraordinary support of our elected leaders, and on behalf of the Metro Board and the riders who depend on the system, I express our appreciation to the Mayor and Governors.”

The Metro Board unanimously approved the Momentum strategic plan in June 2013. Since then, Metro Board members, stakeholders and senior managers, partnering with business community leaders and transit advocates, have been working to inform and build support from riders, organizations, jurisdictions, and regional employers. Today, more than 60 organizations and more than 2,000 individuals have endorsed the Momentum plan.  Riders and stakeholders have said overwhelmingly that increasing capacity with eight-car train service is the most important investment priority for Metro.

The region’s transportation network increasingly depends on a robust Metro system to leverage other investments:

  • The District has plans for streetcars to provide another critical transit link;
  • During rush hours, thousands of passengers will transfer between Metrorail and Maryland’s Purple Line, adding even more riders to the Red Line;
  • Roughly $18B worth of investment is planned or proposed for Tysons near Silver Line stops.  That growth must not be limited by rail congestion in the downtown core of the Metrorail system;
  • Adding buses to busy corridors, along with bus-priority lanes and traffic signal priority for buses, will enable Metro to better compete with cars on the road and meet the growing ridership which is being driven by young adults moving into the region; and
  • Maryland is making significant investments in Shady Grove, Twinbook, Wheaton, and White Flint – all areas beyond where Red Line trains “turn back” (at Grosvenor and Silver Spring).  These areas will require eight-car trains and more rush hour capacity in order to reach their full potential.

In their announcement, the Governors and Mayor committed to beginning work to renew the Capital Funding Agreement for Metro, with a larger commitment of capital to support and advance the Momentum strategic plan.

“Today’s commitment of $75 million is a critical installment that bridges Metro to the next phase of our capital program,” said Sarles.



About the Author

Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.