National Commentary

Jim Moran’s News Commentary

Metro is one of the lynch pins that binds our region together. The federal government’s involvement in our regional transportation infrastructure dates back to World War II, when the Roosevelt administration built the region’s parkways to facilitate transport between downtown D.C. and key military and intelligence installations. President Eisenhower later signed into law the bill authorizing the Metro’s creation.

 

Metro is the only mode of transportation that this region can count on to ensure that federal employees, tourists and guests get to their destination in a timely manner. More than 50 federal agencies in the National Capital Region are located adjacent to Metro stations. From national events, like the presidential inaugurations, demonstrations and public gatherings to sporting and entertainment events like the Wizards, Nationals, Capitals, and the Kennedy Center, Metro keeps our region moving.

We are reminded every day that the Washington area’s traffic is among the worst in the nation (currently ranked 2nd). Imagine how much worse it would be if the 600,000 Metro riders were forced off the rails and into cars? As was witnessed on Monday with the Orange Line derailment, when Metro gets delayed the whole region suffers.

So it’s frustrating that given Metro’s importance to the region, it has not received the funding necessary to keep this integral transit line running at its highest performance.

Metro is confronting a crisis today. It’s an aging infrastructure that has contributed to numerous delays and problems over the past few years

On the House floor this week, Rep. Tom Davis plans to offer an amendment to the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (H.R. 6003), mirroring a bill he previously introduced, that would boost transportation funding for Metro. I am an original cosponsor of this legislation, which provides a mechanism to make the federal government an integral partner in the regional effort to keep Metro running strong.

The Metro amendment will provide incentives to create a dedicated source of revenue, requiring the regional jurisdictions of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia to dedicate local resources to match the federal contribution to WMATA. In addition, the amendment establishes federal representation on the WMATA Board of Directors, including an Inspector General to provide federal oversight, ensuring tax dollars are spent wisely.

Northern Virginia relies on the safe, reliable and effective operation of Metro. It’s a green alternative that literally keeps hundreds of thousands of cars off the roads and provides local governments with an incentive to create communities around Metro stops—so people can live, work and play without needing to drive. It’s the core of our region’s transportation infrastructure and this amendment is the best proposal on the table to get the system back on the right track.

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