May 22, 2007

MD, VA SENATORS INTRODUCE BILL TO PROVIDE $1.5 BILLION TO REVITALIZE AGING METRORAIL SYSTEM

Susan Sullam: 410-962-4436


WASHINGTON -- Maryland Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski today introduced legislation to provide the Washington-area Metrorail system with $1.5 billion in funding over a 10-year period. Virginia Senators John Warner and Jim Webb joined in co-sponsoring the bill. The federal funds will require an equal match from Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia.

In 2006, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) celebrated its 30th anniversary of passenger service on the Metro system. Since service first began in 1976, the Metro system has grown from 4.6-miles and five stations to the nation's second busiest rapid transit system. Today, the Metro system consists of 106.3 miles and 86 stations, carrying more than 100 million passengers a year.

"Half of all rush-hour Metro riders are federal employees," said Senator Cardin. "The government needs the Metro to get workers to their jobs, and, now after 30 years of use, the Metro needs the federal government to step in and help revitalize an aging system."

"This bill will mean great news for commuters and visitors to the National Capitol Region. It authorizes much-needed funding for the Washington Metro system - America's metro," said Senator Mikulski. "Metro means more than just transportation - it means residents and visitors to our nation's capital can live, work, worship and play throughout the metro area without ever getting in their cars."

"This funding will help Metrorail serve federal employees, especially in a national emergency, and will further mitigate congestion in one of America's busiest regions," said Senator John Warner, R-VA.

"Traffic in the region is an impediment to economic growth, quality of life and the ability of Northern Virginians to spend time with their families after work. A good Metro system, backed by a dedicated source of federal funding, is a vital first step toward easing traffic in the region," said Senator Jim Webb, D-VA.

The Metrorail system provides a unified and coordinated transportation system for the region, enhancing mobility for millions of residents, visitors and federal workers. Today, more than 40% of Metro's riders are federal employees. In 2005, a report sponsored by the Metropolitan Council of Governments, the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the Federal City Council found that WMATA faces an average annual operating and capital shortfall of approximately $300 million between FY 2006 and FY 2015.

The National Capital Transportation Amendments Act also will require all state and local governments provide for a dedicated funding source for Metro. Virginia and the District have passed such legislation. Maryland's transportation trust fund is already a dedicated source of revenue, according to Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. The legislation also establishes an Office of Inspector General of the Transit Authority and expands the WMTA Board of Directors.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and the Greater Washington Board of Trade have come out in support of the measure. A similar bill passed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee earlier this year.