by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper
The $3.8 trillion budget unveiled this week by President Obama cuts funding for Washington, D.C.’s MetroRail and bus systems by $15 million.
The Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, which operates the public transportation in the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland, normally receives about $150 million from the federal government and matching funds from all three of its operating jurisdictions.
But cutting the Metro system’s federal appropriation was included in reductions in “targeted areas” touted by the Obama administration.
The White House noted that “the president’s surface transportation plan would substantially increase overall transit funding and would benefit both the Washington area and transit systems nationwide.”
WMATA said it applauds “the President’s continued support for Metro’s important safety improvements and capital program.
“We will work closely with the Administration and members of our congressional delegation to ensure that Metro receives the full funding needed to continue crucial safety and reliability work,’ Metro General Manager Richard Sarles said in a statement.
The American Public Transportation Association, which lobbies for public transit funding, has applauded the Obama budget and said it included sufficient money for transit systems overall.
“This proposal demonstrates that the administration understands the important role public transportation plays in getting people to work and putting people to work,” APTA said in a statement this week. “It includes a continuing commitment to high-speed and intercity passenger rail, improvements to keep our systems in a state of good repair, and a focus on livable communities.”
The APTA statement did not make any mention of the cut to Washington’s Metro funding.
Metro is the second busiest transit system in the United States, behind New York City’s subway. It averages about a million passengers per day, many of whom are federal government employees.