Congressional delegation seeks $2 billion for Metro over 10 years

photoPhoto credit: Matro

All members of the National Capital House Congressional Delegation, led by Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), have reintroduced the Metro Accountability and Investment Act, which would provide up to $2 billion of federal funding for Metro over a ten-year period.

The measure reauthorizes an existing federal capital funding source and provides new federal capital and operating funds contingent on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) adopting specific Inspector General (IG) reforms as well as meeting metrics for safety, reliability, and operating cost efficiency.

“This is a significant milestone to have the entire National Capital House delegation in support of a Metro funding reauthorization bill,” said Rep. Connolly. “Our bill is a balanced proposal that recognizes the federal government’s responsibility to the funding, safety, and reliability of Metro.

“It would strengthen accountability and require the federal government, which is the single biggest beneficiary of Metro and represented on the WMATA Board of Directors, to put some skin in the game on operating costs. The local jurisdictions are stepping up their investments with the establishment of a dedicated funding source, now the federal government must demonstrate a similar commitment to our Nation’s transit system,” Connolly said.

Inspector General funding

Under the proposal, WMATA funding under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) would be reauthorized at $2 billion over 10 years beginning in FY2020. $150 million per year would be available for capital expenses contingent upon a 50 percent match from the local jurisdictions. $50 million per year would be for operating expenses, $10 million of which would be dedicated to the WMATA Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

The entire PRIIA grant would be conditioned on WMATA enacting certain reforms that provide the WMATA OIG with the independence and resources it needs to hold the system accountable to safety and professional standards.

The legislation also authorizes a new tranche of $100 million in annual federal capital funding for WMATA for 20 years, ending in 2039. The conditions of this additional revenue would be based on system performance and continued dedicated funding from the local jurisdictions.

The legislation is cosponsored by Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Representatives Holmes Norton (D-DC), Sarbanes (D-MD) Beyer (D-VA), Raskin (D-MD), Brown (D-MD), Wexton (D-VA) and Trone (D-MD).

Many riders are feds

“Particularly considering that 40 percent of Metro’s rush hour ridership is comprised of federal workers, the federal government depends on Metro to transport workers to federal offices,” said Rep. Norton.  “Our bill is a continuation of PRIIA funding for another 10 years.  Continued funding at $150 million annually for 10 years plus additional funds for operating and capital expenses would increase the federal government’s level of investment in Metro, while the District, Maryland, and Virginia have always matched PRIIA funding and, for the first time, have agreed to dedicated funding.”

“Our bill would ensure that sure the federal government adequately funds the Metro system, which transports a huge portion of its labor force to and from work every day,” said Rep. Beyer. “This investment would provide WMATA with much of the resources it needs to improve the safety and reliability that our constituents deserve. Its time for the federal government to show leadership and stand with local jurisdictions to give WMATA the support it needs.”