Transit Officials to Pitch Regional Tax for Metro

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and Greater Washington Board of Trade plan to pitch a regional tax plan for the Metro system to the Maryland and Virginia legislatures.

As reported in The Washington Post:

Top local government and business groups said Monday that they will press the Virginia and Maryland legislatures in early 2018 to approve a regional tax or other funding mechanism for Metro to help pay the steep costs of renovating the long-neglected system.

The transit chiefs — from New York, Chicago, Atlanta and elsewhere — also said they had faced many of the same challenges as Metro. They said the Washington region’s system could recover from chronic problems with safety and reliability if it were given good leadership, together with sufficient time and money.

Metro is the only major U.S. transit system that does not receive a substantial amount of revenue from a reliable funding stream, such as a region wide sales tax. Decades of efforts to set up such a source have failed partly because Virginia, Maryland and the District couldn’t agree on a plan, and partly because local politicians were loathe to raise taxes.

The lack of revenue has contributed to Metro’s failure in recent years to keep up with investments needed to maintain the system in a state of good repair.

But COG and the Board of Trade hope to overcome the obstacles with what amounts to a two-part plan. First, they want to set firm benchmarks for improving Metro’s performance on safety, reliability and financial management. Second, they want to convince legislators outside the metropolitan area that fixing the subway is vital to prosperity in the Washington region, which is the economic engine for both Virginia and Maryland.

For more information read the full article in The Washington Post.