Virginia Democrats push for more Metro funding
By Keya Vakil
May 7, 2019

Three members of the Virginia’s Democratic Delegation in the House of Representatives are pushing to extend and double the Metro’s federal subsidy, from $150 million to $300 million a year.

The bill’s lead sponsor is Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-11), and Rep. Don Beyer (D-08) and Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-10) are also co-sponsoring the legislation, along with six other representatives from the D.C. region.

The funding would be provided on the condition that the agency strengthen its Office of the Inspector General and meet certain performance goals, such as those for safety and cost efficiency.

The nine members filed an almost identical bill last year when the Republicans controlled the house, but it never went anywhere.

Senators from Virginia and Maryland are filing a similar bill, though the House bill is significantly more generous, as the Senate bill only calls for $200 million a year.

Both bills would extend the 10-year-old federal subsidy that Metro has relied on for capital expenses such as rail cars and other equipment. The subsidy works in such a way that Metro gets $150 million in federal funds on the condition that Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. also throw in $50 million each.

The law authorizing the subsidy expired in October 2018 and Metro recently received the last of its funding from the program.

Connolly highlighted the fact that Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. agreed last year to give the Metro an additional $500 million a year in funding and called on the federal government to demonstrate a similar commitment to the region’s transportation system.

Connolly’s measure would extend the $150 million a year subsidy for 10 years, provide an additional $50 million a year for 10 years for operating expenses, and authorize another $100 million per year for 20 years for capital expenses.

Unlike its upcoming Senate counterpart, the House bill does not withhold federal funding if Metro buys its next generation of rail cars from China, but a separate House measure is planned to address the controversy over whether Metro should purchase rail cars from China.

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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