The COG Board of Directors today accepted the findings of the Blue Ribbon Metro Funding Panel and overwhelmingly approved a resolution to encourage its member jurisdictions to evaluate the panel’s report and work toward finding a solution to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) funding shortfall.
“As you have heard many times before, but I stress it again, WMATA is the largest public transit system without a dedicated revenue source,” panel member Jim Dyke told the COG Board. “This region cannot afford to do nothing. Immediate action must be taken.” Dyke was one of 13 experts on the independent panel, which officially released its report last Thursday.
The COG Board also passed an amendment to the resolution that encourages the governors of Maryland and Virginia and the Mayor of the District of Columbia to embrace a revenue source for WMATA. The Metro Funding Panel recommended a sales tax as the most viable dedicated revenue source that can be implemented on a regional basis.
The amendment, which was proposed by Nancy Floreen of the Montgomery County Council, also asks the federal government to acknowledge the reliance of its workforce on WMATA and “take such additional action as necessary to ensure adequate and reliable federal support for the system.” The panel suggested that the federal government contribute up to 50% of WMATA’s current funding shortfall.
Officials expect a $40 million shortfall in next year’s budget, and the system faces a critical shortfall of $1.5 billion over the next six years for basic system improvements to the 30-year-old system.
With passage of the resolution, COG members and stakeholders are expected to work with officials to help them understand WMATA’s needs. The Greater Washington Board of Trade (BOT), the Federal City Council and the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) are also advocating the panel’s recommendations through a newly-formed Business Transportation Action Coalition (BTRAC).
Click here to view the final report.