Sarbanes, National Capital Region Congressional Delegation Reintroduce Bill to Improve Safety and Reliability of WMATA Public Transit

Today, Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) joined all the members of the National Capital House Congressional Delegation in reintroducing the Metro Accountability and Investment Act. The bill reauthorizes an existing federal capital funding source for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for ten years and provides new federal capital and operating funds contingent on WMATA adopting specific Inspector General (IG) reforms as well as meeting metrics for safety, reliability and operating cost efficiency.

“This long-term federal commitment to WMATA will help improve the safety and reliability of public transit across our region,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “We must continue to encourage and fulfill these types of federal-state funding agreements so that hardworking Marylanders – including thousands of federal civil servants – can enjoy a safe and dependable public transportation system.”

Under this proposal, WMATA funding under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) would be reauthorized at $2 billion over 10 years beginning in FY2020. $150 million per year would be available for capital expenses contingent upon a 50 percent match from the local jurisdictions. $50 million per year would be for operating expenses, $10 million of which would be dedicated to the WMATA Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The entire PRIIA grant would be conditioned on WMATA enacting certain reforms that provide the WMATA OIG with the independence and resources it needs to hold the system accountable to safety and professional standards.

The legislation also authorizes a new tranche of $100 million in annual federal capital funding for WMATA for 20 years, ending in 2039. The conditions of this additional revenue would be based on system performance and continued dedicated funding from the local jurisdictions.

The legislation is cosponsored by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Anthony Brown (D-Md.), Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) and David Trone (D-Md.).