WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, issued the following statement on annual funding for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) in the Omnibus spending bill and benefits to encourage the use of mass transit in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015 (tax extenders).
“Metro is America’s transportation system and we need to make sure it is safe, reliable and efficient. The federal government has long had a special responsibility to support Metro with adequate funding. Every year, millions of workers, students, tourists and business people ride Metro trains and buses. This includes Marylanders, Virginians, Washingtonians and masses from across the country who descend on the Nation’s Capital for a variety of reasons. It also includes the federal workforce, which relies on Metro during their daily routines and emergencies. In the years since I helped craft legislation that provided a dedicated stream of funding for WMATA, Congress has fulfilled its commitment each year. I am proud to say that this year, once again, $150 million has been secured for WMATA to further its upgrades and bring safety to the forefront of its priorities. Metro has serious work ahead to restore trust and its dedication to safety and reliability, but we can be assured that lack of funding will not stand in their way of becoming the very best public transit system in the country.
“In addition to its financial support for Metro, the Omnibus and the PATH Act put Congress on the record solidly in support of the use of public transit to ease traffic congestion and reduce dangerous air pollution from cars. The legislative package to be voted on shortly makes permanent the mass transit tax benefit, which provides enhanced pre-tax savings for workers who use public transit. Important for federal workers and middle-class commuters nationwide, this tax benefit has been brought back into parity with the commuter tax benefit for drivers. We’re putting money back in the pockets of hard-working families and improving air quality during the most congested times of the day. This is a hard-fought win for workers, our communities and public health.”