MD, VA, DC Consider Dedicated Metro Funding Legislation

The General Assembly, along with the Virginia legislature and the D.C. city council, are considering legislation to create a dedicated funding stream for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

Maryland Matters points out that the Washington, D.C. area metro system is the “only transit system of its size without a dedicated source of capital funds.” The system has experienced a number of safety-related issues in recent years due to years of lack of investment in maintenance.

The Maryland Metro Funding Act, Senate Bill 277/House Bill 372, would create the Maryland Metro Dedicated Fund Account within the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) to provide an annual grant of $125 million annually for WMATA’s capital costs. This amount would increase by 3 percent annually. It would be funded by motor vehicle excise tax revenue and any other money appropriated by the State to the account.

According to the bill’s fiscal note, the legislation does NOT alter the amount of motor vehicle excise revenue that flows into the account used to pay local governments their highway user revenues.

Virginia and Washington, D.C. are also considering legislation to provide at least $125 million annually to WMATA. From Maryland Matters:

Along with hoped-for federal funds, the resulting $500 million “would mean we could borrow $15 billion over the next 10 years,” Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans said in an interview.

Evans, chairman of the D.C. Council’s Finance and Revenue Committee, is sponsor of a measure to dedicate a portion of the city’s existing sales tax to transit. A measure being debated in Richmond would provide Virginia’s share using different sources.

“It’s the most critical thing since the founding of Metro,” Evans told Maryland Matters, a sentiment echoed by Feldman, who told his colleagues, “We’re at a moment in which the three jurisdictions are aligning for the first time in 50 years.”