NOVA Coalition Urges Regional Leaders to Fix Metro

Posted on January 11, 2024 in: Metro

The Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance and a Coalition of 20 regional business and community organizations are calling on area elected leaders to take a fiscally responsible approach to fix Metro and address the system’s long-term structural challenges.

Metro is a critical part of the multimodal infrastructure that serves our community, and its success is essential to the economic prosperity of our region. However, the system’s long-term success is undermined by its unsustainable cost growth.

WMATA’s operating costs are increasing by 8.7% in FY24, and will grown an addition 5.9% in FY25 without further cost savings or service reductions. WMATA’s own budget analysis projects 5% cost growth for the foreseeable future. There is no dedicated source of funding that can keep pace with this continued level of cost growth.

Unless we address Metro’s costs, its operating budget will require the continued diversion of resources from other transportation, education, and health and human service priorities from state and local governments across our region.

To address WMATA’s immediate and long-term funding needs, the Coalition is calling on Metro and regional leaders to:

  1. Evaluate WMATA’s short-term funding needs for the next two years with strategic cost and service reductions as well as fare increases;
  2. Identify Virginia’s share of both the pandemic era subsidy credit and remaining shortfall;
  3. Maintain the 3% annual operating subsidy cap for FY27 and beyond, but reset the local operating subsidy for FY25 and FY26 once all other cost savings and internal WMATA funding sources have been identified;
  4. Split Virginia’s share of the remaining funding shortfall equally between local jurisdictions and the Commonwealth; and
  5. Create an Independent Regional Commission that can evaluate WMATA’s operating costs, capital project prioritization and need, inspector general independence, and WMATA’s operating and capital funding requirements for the next decade.

Families, businesses, and local governments across our region are all required to live within our financial means. Right-sizing service and operations now to meet a sustainable level of revenue growth will help WMATA avoid draconian service cuts and put the system on a more sustainable path for the future.