‘We’ve got to get out of that cycle’: Metro, Council of Governments create regional task force to begin discussions on funding solutions

Setting up Metro with dedicated funding has been discussed for decades in the region but still hasn’t come to fruition. Now, WMATA and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments hope a regional task force can finally bring about an agreeable plan of action.

“We fundamentally don’t have predictability at Metro, which means you as regional partners don’t have predictability of your budgets. And we’ve got to get out of that cycle,” said Metro General Manager Randy Clarke during a joint meeting of the Metro and COG Board of Directors on Wednesday.

According to COG, in addition to solutions for funding Metro, a new group will look at how all regional transportation agencies work together and are governed. DMV Moves is a 20-member task force that will be made up of local and state leaders from D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

The three surrounding jurisdictions fund Metro, but approving that funding, especially if there are changes, requires those jurisdictions to go through their respective legislative processes before the funds can be transferred.

In December, Metro warned drastic cuts would be needed to address a $750 million budget shortfall if D.C., Maryland and Virginia did not approve more funding. The cuts were largely averted when the city and states came to the table with an additional $463 million.

“Now is our opportunity, and it will help us avoid lurching from financial crisis to crisis,” said D.C. Council member Charles Allen, who is also Chair of COG. “Together, we are creating a historic and crucial opportunity for leaders across the entire D.C. region to develop a shared vision and a shared path forward.”

Clark Mercer, COG’s executive director, said one of the first goals of DMV Moves is to come up with a clear picture of what the area’s transit network should look like.

“We need to have a transparent and robust discussion about what we want in transit in this region,” Mercer said.

During the presentation, the boards were told about transit systems around the nation and the world which have dedicated funding and the successes they see from the revenue plan.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay said in finding solutions for funding local governments can’t foot the bill alone and the federal government should be a part of the discussion.

“I just want to really stress that can’t be done on local revenues, because it’s just not sustainable,” McKay said.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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