Mary­land Will Put Up Metro Funds

State Is ‘Pre­pared to Do What­ever Is Re­quired’

The Washington Post Sunday - - Close To Home - — John D. Por­cari

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.

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