Washington, D.C. –The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Board of Directors voted today to join the Greater Washington Board of Trade to encourage and assist a fast-tracked, independent review of the governance structure of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Agency.
The review will be overseen by a public-private task force that will offer recommendations later this year to WMATA and its stakeholders as they develop proposals for its governance structure. In the coming weeks, COG will seek former elected and appointed officials to provide a public sector perspective to the task force. The Board of Trade is selecting leaders from the private sector to participate in the review. The task force is expected to hold its first meeting in late May or early June.
“COG brings tremendous experience and credibility to this needed analysis of WMATA,” said Kwame Brown, Chair of the COG Board of Directors and At-Large District of Columbia Councilmember. “While it’s important that we get this right, we need to be mindful that any governance structure must recognize the uniqueness of the National Capital Region.”
COG and the Board of Trade will ask the task force to compile previous studies and research on transit governance models, review WMATA and other current models, and identify best practices and strategies that could be applied in the National Capital Region.
“The governance structure that served WMATA well when it was primarily focused on building the rail system may not be the best model for governance and oversight for a mature rail and bus system,” said Jim Dyke, chairman of the Board of Trade and partner at McGuireWoods LLP. “The business community relies heavily on this regional transportation system. We have a vested interest in making sure it serves the region well.”
In 2004 and 2005, COG partnered with the Board of Trade and the Federal City Council to create an independent, blue-ribbon panel to recommend alternative sources of funding for WMATA. The panel called on federal, state and local funding partners to devise new, more reliable funding strategies for WMATA, and its recommendations supported the $1.5 billion dedicated funding legislation passed by Congress in 2008.