Sharon Bulova, chair of Fairfax County's Board of Supervisors, has been closely following and advocating for Metro funding in the Virginia General Assembly in Richmond and sent us this dispatch.
Often called “America’s Subway,” Washington Metrorail is the heart of our region’s transportation network. Our nation’s capital deserves a world class transit system, and we have the opportunity to get Metro back on track.
The Metrorail system has served the Washington, DC region for over 40 years and is integral to the functioning of the federal government, moving residents to major employment centers, and boosting the economic success of our area and the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. Any massive infrastructure network requires consistent maintenance to provide excellence, but maintenance has not kept up with an aging system. A priority for WMATA, including leaders in Virginia, Maryland and DC who serve on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG), is to restore the Metrorail system to a state of good repair. To do this, it is imperative to secure dedicated and reliable funding to sustain Metrorail’s and the region’s success into the future.
I chaired COG’s Metro Strategy Group and deliberated with my colleagues throughout the region on potential funding solutions for our struggling Metrorail system. We adopted a set of principles that call for permanent and dedicated funding to ensure the long-term stability of Metro. A thorough review by regional chief financial officers and county executives agreed that $500 million per year in additional, dedicated funding is needed, as well as governance reform, safety improvements, operational efficiencies, and funding participation by all stakeholders (including the federal government). These recommendations are incorporated into our principles.
I am pleased that the Virginia General Assembly is engaged in addressing Metro’s needs. Both Senator Dick Saslaw and Delegate Tim Hugo have sponsored bills to provide funding for Metro and address governance reform. Senator Saslaw’s bill provides $154 million per year (Virginia’s share of funding needed under the existing WMATA formula) and more closely addresses the funding needs outlined in the adopted principles. This vital issue continues to move forward since both chambers in the General Assembly have approved bills. As the 2018 Virginia General Assembly session nears conclusion, now is the time to finalize an agreement that provides sufficient resources and reforms to deliver on our commitment of maintaining a world class transit system. Our region is counting on it.