Washington, D.C. – The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments today applauded the passage of legislation in the U.S. Senate that would authorize $1.5 billion over 10 years in matching funding for improvements needed by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The funding measure is part of the Railroad Safety Enhancement Act of 2008, which was approved by the U.S. House last week and must be signed by President Bush to be enacted.
Today’s passage is the result of a multi-year effort by the region’s congressional delegation to authorize $1.5 billion to finance capital improvements to Metro in conjunction with matching funds from the District, Maryland and Virginia. U.S. Congressman Tom Davis (R-VA) first proposed the $1.5 billion measure, which was approved by the U.S. House but did not pass the U.S. Senate in 2006.
“The Senate’s passage of this bill is a key step forward in the regional effort to secure vital funding for Metro, and COG applauds the region’s congressional delegation for their steadfast support and hard work,” said COG Board Chair Michael Knapp, who is also President of the Montgomery County Council. “We look forward to working with area leaders to ensure that Metro receives a sustainable, long-term source of funding.”
COG first called attention to Metro’s funding shortfalls in 2005 when it worked with the Greater Washington Board of Trade and Federal City Council to sponsor a blue ribbon panel of transportation funding experts to examine the issue. The panel called on federal, state and local funding partners to devise new, more reliable funding strategies for Metro.
WMATA recently announced the system needs $11 billion over the next decade for maintenance and improvements. It is the largest transit system in the nation without a dedicated source of funding.