FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2022
Contact: John Hillegass
Washington, D.C. — The MetroNow coalition submitted comments on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) Fiscal Year 2023 Budget.
The MetroNow Coalition commends WMATA General Manager/CEO’s Proposed FY2023 Budget as a strong, stable budget that includes several priorities the Coalition supports, including:
- Planned Metrobus, Metrorail, and Metroaccess service levels at those implemented in September 2021, which included more frequent service approaching pre-pandemic levels
- A $2 late night and weekend rail fare
- Discounted monthly and 7-day passes
- Permanently eliminating the bus-rail transfer penalty
The fare changes will be of particular benefit to lower-income riders and our essential workforce, and will also help attract riders back to the system.
WMATA faces a range of challenges including the evolving COVID pandemic and disruption to transit operations and health of transit workers caused by the Omicron-variant wave, the sidelining of the 7000-series railcars, and the shifting timeline for a widespread return to offices. Amid these challenges, this budget provides a stable footing that this region’s elected officials, business leaders, and residents can use to help plan for the year ahead.
However, the proposed FY2023 budget makes clear that the following year, Fiscal Year 2024, WMATA will face a projected $519.3 million operating funding gap.
Without a quick return to pre-pandemic transportation ridership, especially on revenue-generating rail trips, or additional operating funding from the federal government, the region will need to come together to close that funding gap or face severe cuts to WMATA service, personnel, and/or capital projects. Such cuts, especially to bus service, would harm our economic competitiveness and the well-being of our most vulnerable residents, and therefore must be avoided.
The MetroNow Coalition is confident that this region will come together to find a solution to the FY2024 funding gap and will do what it takes to put transit first in its transportation funding priorities. We encourage WMATA, MWCOG, NVTC, and WSTC to develop a 3-year strategy that allows our transit network to weather this transition period and make necessary changes to enhance the transit system to better serve the region’s needs, including a regional bus network redesign and dedicated bus lanes.
MetroNow is committed to working with the region’s public leaders to ensure the transit systems we rely on emerge from the pandemic and into a new, stronger normal.
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About the MetroNow Coalition
The MetroNow Coalition is a group of regional leaders from organizations representing businesses and non-profit advocates who came together to ensure that action was taken to put Metro—the backbone of Greater Washington’s transportation infrastructure—on a safe, smart, and sustainable path forward. We are dedicated to securing comprehensive improvement of Metro’s governance, funding, and operational structures. Since our successful 2018 campaign for dedicated capital funding for Metrorail from each jurisdiction, we doubled down on our commitment to regional mobility by expanding our focus to include making the region’s bus systems more frequent, reliable, faster, and affordable.