COG today re-affirmed its support for a dedicated funding source for the region’s Metro transit system and thanked the U.S. Senators from the region for introducing legislation that will allow this issue to move forward.
The new legislation, introduced by Senators Benjamin Cardin and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, and Senators John Warner and James Webb of Virginia, commits the federal government to contributing $1.5 billion over ten years for Metro capital improvements if the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia also provide added support.
“This bill represents another very important step forward to meet the transportation needs of the region,” said Vincent C. Gray, Chairman of the COG Board and Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia. “The District of Columbia is proud that it was the first to take action on Metro funding last year to complement the proposed federal legislation. We look forward to working with our bi-partisan congressional delegation in the House and Senate to address one of COG’s top regional priorities.”
COG has been a leading advocate for dedicated funding for Metro since 2005, when a special “blue ribbon” research panel -- created in collaboration with the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the Federal City Council -- released a report detailing the need for alternative sources of funding. COG’s persistent work on the issue helped lead to proposed legislation in the 109th Congress, which has been reintroduced in the House this year and approved by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Both the District of Columbia and Virginia have enacted Metro funding legislation in response to the House bill.
“Investment in transit will pay tremendous dividends,” said Michael Knapp, vice-chair of the COG Board and a Montgomery County Council member. “Progress in air quality, traffic congestion and the sound stewardship of our environmental resources will be at risk if we fail to adequately fund our world class Metro system that takes thousands of vehicles off the road each day.”
Catherine Hudgins, chairwoman of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, and a member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said: “The Senate bill presents a new opportunity to carefully examine and debate this complex regional issue. We all agree that Metro needs additional revenue if it is going to meet the needs of its federal riders and the thousands of commuters and visitors that use transit daily. There still is much work to be done to achieve the best outcome for Metro and we appreciate the Senators’ willingness to work with us.”
The region's public transit system is among the country’s most advanced, used by thousands of people every day to get to work, school and recreational activities. It is also the nation’s largest system with no significant dedicated source of revenue, and faces rising demands that could outpace capacity.