Metro is an indispensable asset to our region. It provides an environmentally sustainable alternative to auto transport and helps alleviate some of our region’s infamous traffic congestion. Metro provides an important physical connection between the three major parts of metro Washington – Virginia D.C. and Maryland. And it really needs money.
As the Metro Board mulls the potential of cutting late night service to save money Metro’s basic funding need is made clear to the public. Just like it’s not sustainable for most organizations to operate solely on the hope that they continue to receive grant funding it’s not sustainable for Metro to operate without a dedicated reliable and sufficient source of funding.
This is a fight that’s been fought before and it appears may be soon fought again. In its FY2011 budget the new House leadership has proposed eliminating the $150 million federal commitment to Metro. In response representatives from the region’s congressional delegation pushed an amendment introduced by Representative Gerry Connolly to restore that funding. The amendment was killed. The President’s budget fortunately protects federal funding for Metro but given the current mood of Congress this seems poised to be an area of protracted debate.
Elected officials should certainly redouble their efforts to keep federal funding for Metro in place but so should Metro riders. As Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney points out today Metro funding has become a partisan issue. It has no business being a partisan issue. Hundreds of thousands of people take Metro to work every day and many of them are either directly employed by the federal government or indirectly consult or contract for it. Democrat Republican or Independent they need to make their voices heard.