Local leader: Metro shutdown proves need for dedicated funding

Tim Lovain, Chair of the National Capital Region's Transportation Planning Board says area leaders need to agree on a dedicated source of funding for Metro capital improvements. "Part of our problem is we have two states and the District of Columbia and really need all three to be engaged," Lovain said. (WTOP/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON — A local leader who works on transportation issues says Metrorail’s shut down Wednesday demonstrates just how important it is that Metro gets dedicated funding.

“Boy, I guess the traffic [Wednesday] showed how important Metro is,” said Tim Lovain, Chair of the National Capital Region’s Transportation Planning Board.

“It shows the urgency of the capital improvements that are needed and other improvements [needed] to the Metro system. It also shows how critical the system is.”

He is among the many local leaders who weighed in on the Metro closure Wednesday.

Lovain says he’s proud of Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s aggressive approach on working to improve system safety and reliability, but he says the system needs more.

“At almost every other rail transit system in American, there’s a dedicated regional funding source — usually a sales tax, sometimes a gas tax, something like that — not here,” Lovain said.

“So, we have to pass the hat all the time, and that tends to come up short on the money when you do it that way.”

The challenge is to get legislative bodies in Virginia and Maryland and D.C.’s City Council to work together to decide how to create dedicated funding for Metro. Partners in the federal government also might like to be part of the process.

“It’s a tall order, but it’s a necessary thing to do,” Lovain said.

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