Annapolis, MD – The MetroNow Coalition, a group of businesses and advocacy groups calling for immediate reforms to Metro governance, funding, and operations, made the following statement in response to a bill introduced yesterday regarding Maryland’s commitment to Metro:
“The coalition applauds Maryland State Senator Brian Feldman, Delegate Marc Korman, and Delegate Erek Barron on the introduction of The Maryland Metro Funding Act and The Metro Board Member Act.
“These bills are a positive step forward in the effort to secure Maryland’s commitment to the long-term funding and governance reforms Metro requires and the Coalition is working to ensure are enacted in 2018. We urge leaders in Annapolis to move quickly to build on this important first step on the road to enacting comprehensive reform to WMATA’s funding and governing structures.
“This is particularly urgent in light of Amazon’s announcement of its HQ2 shortlist yesterday, which included three sites in the Greater Washington metropolitan area: Montgomery County, the District of Columbia, and Northern Virginia. Amazon has stated that direct access to world class public transit is among the top criteria they will consider. Immediate action to begin reforming Metro would send a clear message to Amazon that the region is fully behind its HQ2 expansion, and prevent Metro from becoming a net negative for the Greater Washington region’s competitiveness.
“The Greater Washington region requires Metro to be capable of delivering safe, reliable, and frequent service for our continued prosperity and quality of life. Simply put, Metro is essential to our region’s prosperity across the board – from individual riders who rely on the system every day, to attracting and keeping major economic engines like Amazon.”
The MetroNow Coalition looks forward to working with Senators Feldman, Delegates Korman, Barron, Governor Hogan and legislative leaders in Annapolis to ensure that immediate action is taken during the 2018 legislative sessions to provide Metro with the long-term funding and governance reforms that are long overdue.
Below is the press release put out by Delegate Korman’s office in regards to the bill introduction:
For Immediate Release
January 19, 2018
Contact: Sean Emerson
MARYLAND LEGISLATORS PROPOSE DEDICATED FUNDING AND
GOVERNANCE REFORM FOR METRO
Bills will provide permanent, bondable dedicated funding source for Metro and add the Maryland Transportation Secretary To the Metro Board
Senator Brian Feldman, Delegate Marc Korman, and Delegate Erek Barron introduced legislation this week to provide a permanent, bondable funding source for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA or Metro) and reform Maryland’s appointments to the Metro Board of Directors.
The Maryland Metro Funding Act builds on Governor Hogan’s proposal to provide an additional $125 million in capital funding to Metro over the next four years, instead making the additional funds a permanent annual allocation from a new account within the Maryland Transportation Trust Fund. In addition, the bill indexes the state’s current capital funding contribution to Metro at 3% to ensure that the state’s allocation to Metro increases at the rate of inflation. Enactment of the Maryland Metro Funding Act is contingent on D.C. and Virginia establishing their own dedicated, bondable funding sources totaling at least $125 million respectively to match Maryland’s potential contribution.
The Metro Board Member Act would make one of Maryland’s voting members on the Metro Board of Directors the state’s Transportation Secretary or their designee. The state’s other voting board member would shift between Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Adding the Transportation Secretary to the Board would put in place an individual with knowledge, staff, and resources to provide improved oversight of Metro. The District of Columbia already puts their Director of Transportation on the Board.
“Metro is a necessity for our area – an essential component for attracting new business and growing our regional economy. Given that Montgomery County is a finalist for Amazon’s new headquarters and that one of their selection criteria is access to safe and reliable public transportation, funding for Metro is more critical than ever.” said Senator Brian Feldman, who is introducing the legislation in the Maryland Senate.
“Metro is critical to our state’s transportation network and economic success. As a daily rider during the nine months a year that the legislature is not in session and with five Red Line stations in my district, I know its importance and want to see it succeed. To move Metro in a more positive direction requires both funding and reform,” said Delegate Marc Korman, the lead sponsor of the legislation in the House of Delegates and co-founder of the General Assembly’s Metro Work Group.
“A strong public transit system is key to our region’s economic development and job growth success. We are committed to ensuring Metro is safe, reliable, efficient and sufficiently funded.” remarked Delegate Erek Barron, also co-founder of the General Assembly’s Metro Work Group.
Establishing a dedicated funding source for Metro has been a need since the tri-jurisdictional agency’s formation in 1967. Reforms to the Metro Board will ensure those funds are spent appropriately. The issue is of significance to the entire state, as estimates show that that there are over 30,000 daily riders of Metrorail alone from Maryland jurisdictions other than Montgomery or Prince George’s counties. Metro is an invaluable part of the state’s economy. With the introduction of these pieces of legislation, Maryland is a step closer to ensuring that this critical asset is well maintained and reliable into the future.
About the MetroNow Coalition
The MetroNow Coalition is a group of regional leaders from organizations representing businesses and non-profit advocates who have come to together to ensure that action is taken to put Metro – the backbone of Greater Washington’s transportation infrastructure – on a safe, smart and sustainable path forward in 2018 and beyond. We are dedicated to securing comprehensive improvement of Metro’s governance, funding and operational structures in 2018. Visit MetroNow.com for more information.
In October, Coalition members commissioned an online survey of 621 registered voters in the District, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia, finding that 94 percent of respondents agreed that the Metro system is valuable to the greater Washington region. In the survey, 70 percent also supported an increase in public funding to improve the Metro system, and 90 percent agreed that without an effective governance structure, the Metro system can never reach its full potential.