Launched in January 2018, the MetroNow Coalition is the culmination of more than a year’s work by the Federal City Council (FC2) and other civic organizations to create a regional alliance to advocate for comprehensive Metro reform.
The Coalition will capitalize on legislative initiatives in the region to urge elected officials to immediately approve legislation to reform Metro’s governance, funding and operations. At this point, seven bills are pending in Virginia, two in Maryland and one in the District.
An executive committee comprised of the FC2, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Greater Washington Partnership, The 2030 Group, Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Coalition for Smarter Growth leads the grassroots business and non-profit alliance. Other key members include Leadership Greater Washington and the District of Columbia Building Industry Association.
“With regional collaboration and leadership from Richmond, Annapolis and the District of Columbia, we can put Metro back on a safe, smart and sustainable path in 2018,” said Anthony Williams, FC2 CEO and executive director.
It’s a thought echoed by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. “I think now the commitment of the jurisdictions has to be our primary focus,” Bowser told trustees at FC2’s Winter Board Meeting. “We simply cannot survive without a Metro system that operates and grows with the region. I remain concerned about the political problems around Metro.”
MetroNow is working with a bipartisan coalition of leaders in the MD and VA’s General Assemblies and the DC City Council to counter political concerns. They are responding to the imperative to provide additional funds for Metro’s capital and maintenance backlog.
In January, a third bill was introduced in the U.S. House to address Metro reform. The legislation, the Metro Accountability and Investment Act, sponsored by Virginia Rep. Gerald Connolly, joins bills from Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock (METRO Accountability and Reform Act) and Maryland Rep. Anthony Brown (WMATA Flexible Funding and Safety Improvement Act). They collectively represent a call to action for both Congress and regional officials to make critical Metro reforms this year.
The Trump Administration released its FY 2019 budget in January, but it did not include the expected $150 million in Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) funds for Metro capital improvements.
“Maintaining this funding, long believed by Metro officials and regional leaders to be assured by law, is crucial to continued progress to improve the state of repair for our system, and MetroNow’s goal of accomplishing long-term funding and governance reform this year,” noted the Coalition. Thirty-nine percent of Metro’s riders are federal employees or contractors.