Washington, D.C. (June 14, 2017) – At its monthly meeting, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) Board of Directors adopted a new set of principles to guide its ongoing work to help restore the Metro system to world-class status.
The principles will guide the work of a COG Metro Strategy Group of elected officials, who are focused on securing funding to meet the system’s capital needs. Fairfax County Chairman Sharon Bulova, who is leading the Strategy Group, said agreeing to the principles indicates progress as officials work together on the funding issue. She noted that the COG Board said any additional revenue source must be predictable and bondable, and “must pass muster with the rating agencies.”
Bulova added that the Strategy Group will be working together this summer and will come back to the COG Board in September. The Strategy Group set a deadline of fiscal year 2019 – in effect, July 2018 - for taking unified actions in the region to ensure funding is in place.
Before the adoption of the principles, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld briefed the board on his plan for “Keeping Metro Safe, Reliable, and Affordable.” The plan outlines a strategy for accomplishing goals for an improved system, building on the SafeTrack program and the Back2Good initiative. The COG Board adopted a separate resolution in support of Wiedefeld’s plan.
In April, a COG technical study by a panel of local city and county managers and the District of Columbia’s Chief Financial Officer, found that the system’s predominant funding problem is a capital shortfall of $6.1 billion over the next 10 years.
The panel studied revenue options to provide a dedicated funding source, such as sales, property, and gas taxes, that would achieve long-term capital funding by supporting bonding and spreading the cost of capital projects over the projects’ lifespans. The panel’s study as well as additional analyses and member feedback are informing the Strategy Group’s work.
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Statement of principles on Metro (Resolution 37-2017)
- The region adopts the goal of a fully restored, world class Metro system that is safe, efficiently managed in a fiscally responsible manner, and maintained in a state of good repair.
- Bridging the gap in WMATA’s long-term capital needs is the funding priority.
- The optimal way to address WMATA’s capital funding gap for state of good repair and critical capital needs is through a dedicated funding source or sources that are earmarked to WMATA, fully bondable at the highest possible financial rating, and enhances WMATA’s overall financial standing.
- WMATA’s operating and maintenance funding needs should be addressed through application of management best practices and reforms, as well as funds derived from increased ridership, before determining if there is a need for additional funding to fill any remaining gap in operating and maintenance funding needs.
- Local and state contributions for capital subsidies, as well as operating and maintenance subsidies, should be predictable with an annual growth rate of not more than three percent.
- The local jurisdictions, the states, the business community and additional stakeholders will collaborate to accomplish these goals by the start of WMATA’s Fiscal Year 2019.
- Enhancement and reform of WMATA’s governance and operations may be accomplished through agreements, policies, and legislative actions that optimally would be accomplished without reopening the WMATA compact at this time.
- We call on the federal government to recognize its fiscal responsibility to America’s transit system and the federal workforce utilizing the Metrorail system.