Maryland Will Put Up Metro Funds
State Is ‘Prepared to Do Whatever Is Required’
Historically, Maryland has always been there to meet Metro’s needs, and that remains the case today. Gov. Martin O’Malley ( D) has consistently voiced strong support for public transit. Improving transit around the state, and the region, by creating a seamless, efficient and customer- friendly transit network is a major initiative for the next four years.
The keys are adequately funding both the operating and capital needs of our current transit system, including dedicated funding for Metro.
The Post’s April 11 article “ Metro Funding Depends on Maryland; State Argues It Has Stable Cash Source” did not accurately convey Maryland’s strong support for Metro and dedicated funding. In Maryland’s transportation trust fund, our state already has a funding mechanism that meets all of the criteria for dedicated funding, as required by legislation proposed by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III ( R-Va.). Maryland is prepared to do whatever is required to access the federal dollars the Davis legislation would provide for the state; if the final version of the bill requires that we do more to secure these necessary funds, then we will take specific actions to that end.
Dedicated funding is important because it will provide a consistent flow of investment to rehabilitate Metro’s aging infrastructure and improve service for our customers. Improvements will include the purchase of an additional 340 rail cars and 275 buses; tunnel repairs; station maintenance and rehabilitation; additional elevators and escalators at some of the busiest stations; and additional park- and- ride facilities.
It is important to remember that investing in Metro benefits transit riders and highway commuters. Without Metro, the Washington region would need to build at least 1,400 lane- miles of highway to accommodate the volume of transit commuters now using the system.
Throughout the region, all partners have more work to do to support this legislation, but we are confident that everyone is moving toward the same goal. Under Virginia’s new transportation legislation, a regional transportation authority must approve revenue- raising issues to pay for its share of dedicated funding. Also, each of the three jurisdictions — Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia — must take legislative action to modify the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Compact, which governs the operation and funding of Metro.
I would note that in advance of the Davis legislation the WMATA board of directors and General Manager John Catoe have addressed one of its requirements. They recently hired an experienced inspector general to improve the agency’s accountability and transparency. Also, Catoe is conducting an overall assessment of WMATA to make it more efficient.
All parties are on the right track. This is a great example of strong regional cooperation — the cooperation that Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia need if we are to confront the challenges of growth and turn them into opportunities for a shared future.
Let it be clear that Maryland stands firmly with its partners in its commitment to dedicated funding and to building a better Metro for the Washington region.
Hanover, Md. The writer is Maryland’s secretary of transportation.