With essential contributions from the Federal City Council (FC2), the MetroNOW coalition was instrumental in petitioning elected officials in the District, Maryland and Virginia to secure much-needed new funding for the Metro system.
“Elected officials have set aside their differences in order to ensure the long-term health of the Metro,” says Emeka Moneme, Deputy Executive Director of the FC2. “This is an important step forward for our city and the region.”
Much of the recent legislative debate focused on each jurisdiction’s formula-based share of Metro’s new dedicated funding. An additional $500 million in new funding—a number agreed on by Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld, former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments—is needed to avoid further deterioration of service, to replace aging components, and restore the system to a state of good repair.
Before recessing in March, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation to provide its formula-based share of $154 million. Gov. Ralph Northam has endorsed the measure but is expected to propose changes in the revenue sources, as many feel the proposal takes too much from funding earmarked for road projects in Northern Virginia.
In Maryland, the General Assembly committed to the $167 million required by the formula before recessing in April. Maryland’s legislation dedicates funding from the state’s Transportation Trust Fund and is paired with bills that address board composition and the establishment of an independent Inspector General.
District officials, including both Mayor Muriel Bowser and the DC Council, have committed to providing $178.5 million, the District’s formula-based share. Bowser has recommended that the funding come from dedicating a portion of the sales tax, and has proposed to offset the reallocation of the sales tax with an increase to commercial property taxes and new taxes on restaurants, hotels and for-hire vehicles, such as Uber and Lyft. The FC2, along with the MetroNow coalition will work with DC officials to finalize these sources during the budget process.
While the funding has been secured, there remain ongoing concerns about effective governance over this capital investment and ensuring Metro’s long-term sustainability. FC2 leaders believe that a smaller, more-focused board will be more agile in responding to the operational needs of Metro, and they remain committed to pressing forward on those changes through the MetroNOW coalition in the coming months.