Today, members of the National Capital Region Congressional Delegation sent a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development requesting $150 million in federal funding for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). This funding is part of a federal-state partnership between the federal government, Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia established by the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA), which provides $300 million annually for Metro’s capital budget.
“WMATA is a $40 billion asset to the National Capital Region and is essential to the operation of the federal government, with federal employees representing approximately 40 percent of Metrorail’s peak period customers,” the members wrote. “Unlike other transportation networks in the nation, the WMATA system serves a unique vital national security role for the federal government, providing transportation for thousands of federal employees traveling to and from the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security facilities, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters.”
“There is an active, bicameral effort underway to improve and reauthorize PRIIA to maintain the federal government’s necessary contribution to the national capital’s transit system,” the members added. “However, without continued federal participation this successful funding partnership would unravel, leaving a massive shortfall in WMATA’s capital budget.”
The sustained federal-state partnership over the course of the last decade has enabled the system to meet critical safety capital needs including:
· $1 billion in railcar acquisitions and facilities investments, including the acquisition of new 7000 series railcars;
· the award of a $100 million contract to install a 700 MHz radio system to improve communications of public safety personnel;
· the replacement of second generation track circuits as identified by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to upgrade the train control system;
· and the now completed SafeTrack program which rehabilitated, replaced, and restored sections of track infrastructure.
“We respectfully request that the Subcommittee provide WMATA with $150 million in capital funding in Fiscal Year 2020,” the members concluded.
The letter was signed by Representatives Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Don Beyer (D-VA), Anthony Brown (D-MD), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) and David Trone (D-MD).