Metro Funding in the Transportation/HUD Approps Bill
I write today bearing good news for residents of the nation’s capital metro region. The Transportation/HUD appropriations bill (H.R. 3288) was on the floor of the full House today, and it was passed a few hours ago. The final vote ended up at 256-168; 16 R’s voted for it and 10 D’s voted against.
For those who ride the DC Metro system, there is a nice $150 million nugget of emergency maintenance funding for the system in this bill. From the Daily Whip Line summary (via Congress Matters):
Capital and Preventive Maintenance Grants for WMATA: $150 million in new funding for grants to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority to address safety deficiencies and to maintain the nation’s subway system.
It is of course badly needed, and somewhat fortuitous that if a horrific Metro accident had to happen, it did so a couple weeks before consideration of the annual transportation appropriations process. This means we may see some more construction delays and single-tracking in the near future, but hopefully it will constitute a crucial step in modernizing Metro infrastructure and helping avoid unsafe conditions.
On behalf of Carrots & Sticks members and DC-area residents in general, I would like to thank local representatives and other leaders for ensuring inclusion of this funding. From what I gather, Steny Hoyer in particular deserves ample credit in fighting for emergency Metro funding.
However, it is unfortunate that such a stark circumstance had to be present for Metro to receive this money. $150 million is a mere drop in the bucket when measured against the system’s full needs to adequately meet its ridership demand in a safe and effective manner. Furthermore, DC’s transit infrastructure is far from unique in its sorry state of disrepair. The continual structural deficit of this and all other light rail systems in the United States requires a sustained, substantial and recurring remedy. The federal government is the only entity capable of providing such stabilizing funding, and has a responsibility to do so.
If we are serious about changing our transportation priorities in America, operations assistance for metropolitan transit agencies must be included as part of a solution.
For more background on transit cuts, Ben Adler of the Nation has a very informative piece running down some of the latest developments in the states and in DC.
Also, Transportation for America has a great map that outlines all the operating cuts made recently by local transit agencies around the country: