Federal spending bill: $150M for Metro; potentially $125M for Purple Line

WASHINGTON — Metro would get its full promised federal funding through October, under the draft version of the federal funding bill that is expected to come up for a vote in Congress later this week, a Congressional source said.

The draft funding measure provides all $150 million in special annual federal contributions.

Rep. Barbara Comstock’s office said she worked to include the $150 million in this funding bill. Comstock is the only Republican on Capitol Hill representing an area with a Metro station.

The yearly grant for Metro is scheduled to run out next year, but Metro supporters considering financial plans for the system’s future are counting on the money to be renewed beyond that time frame.

Those long-term financial plans also call for some kind of dedicated tax to fund the Metro system in addition to the federal contributions. Similar recommendations have been made over the past 41 years the system has been open, but they have not led to any action.

Millions for Purple Line — with strings attached

Separately, the stalled Purple Line in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties could get $125 million under the federal spending plan.

The Purple Line was close to signing a full federal funding deal last year, only for the process to be stopped by a federal judge.

The federal funding bill designates $125 million for the Maryland Transit Administration project as long as a full federal funding agreement is signed by September, the end of the current fiscal year.

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget blueprint, released earlier this year, had called for an end to funding for new transit projects that did not already have agreements in place.

The lawsuit holding up construction of the line between Bethesda, Silver Spring, College Park and New Carrollton is still pending. Judge Richard Leon has not ruled on the latest issues in the case, despite requests from the state to issue a ruling soon so Maryland does not have to pay the private company building the line for delays.

While riders will be able to transfer from the Purple Line to Metro or other transit services, the line is not affiliated with and will not be operated by Metro.

If construction is allowed to move forward soon, the line would open in 2022.

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