WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the National Capital Region Congressional Delegation reintroduced the Metro Accountability and Investment Act. Sponsors include Representative Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-MD), and Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Don Beyer (D-VA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Anthony Brown (D-MD), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), and David Trone (D-MD).
“Even before the pandemic, which has only exacerbated the challenges facing transit agencies across the country, WMATA was in need of a long-term plan that restored confidence in the rail system. The Metro Accountability and Investment Act is a balanced proposal that recognizes the federal government’s responsibility to the funding, safety, and reliability of Metro. Our proposal has the support of the entire House delegation, and more importantly, it has already passed the House. We can’t delay any longer. Congress must pass this legislation,” the members said.
The Metro Accountability and Investment Act would reauthorize the Passenger Rail Investment Improvement Act (PRIIA) funding for ten years and provide additional federal funding, contingent on safety and oversight reforms, including strengthening the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The legislation also protects important Code of Ethics reforms adopted in April 2019 for the WMATA Board of Directors.
Under the Metro Accountability and Investment Act, WMATA would receive the following annual federal funding allocations:
- Fiscal Year 2022: $150,000,000
- Fiscal Year 2023: $155,000,000
- Fiscal Year 2024: $160,000,000
- Fiscal Year 2025: $165,000,000
- Fiscal Year 2026: $170,000,000
- Fiscal Year 2027: $175,000,000
- Fiscal Year 2028: $180,000,000
- Fiscal Year 2029: $185,000,000
- Fiscal Year 2030: $190,000,000
- Fiscal Year 2031: $200,000,000
The funding is contingent on the WMATA Board adopting and keeping certain resolutions in effect for the entire funding period. These resolutions would:
- Establish independent budget authority for the OIG;
- Establish independent procurement authority for the OIG;
- Establish independent hiring authority for the OIG;
- Ensure that the OIG can obtain independent legal advice from a counsel reporting directly to the OIG;
- Require the OIG to submit recommendations for corrective action to the GM and the Metro Board of Directors;
- Require the OIG to publish recommendations to its website, with allowances for the removal of personally identifiable information or information that could pose a security risk to Metro systems;
- Require the Metro Board of Directors to provide written notice to relevant Congressional Committees at least 30 days in advance of the removal of an Inspector General, along with an explanation of reasons for removal and supporting documentation;
- Prohibit the Board of Directors from removing the Inspector General without a 30 day written notification documenting permanent incapacity, neglect of duty, malfeasance, a conviction of a felony or conduct involving moral turpitude, knowing violation of a law or regulation, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or inefficiency; and
- Require the Board to keep its new Code of Ethics for Members of the Metro Board, or consult with the OIG on any modifications to the Code of Ethics.
“This bill once again demonstrates our Congressional delegation’s leadership supporting critically needed funding to maintain a safe and reliable transportation system, and it will be critical to the region’s recovery for years to come,” said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “We welcome provisions that will increase transparency and ensure taxpayer funds are well-spent to continue to earn the public’s confidence. We thank the authors of this bill for understanding the importance of Metro to the entire region.”
“The Metro system is one of the nation’s great public assets that millions of people rely on every year – from federal workers to visitors from around the world,” said WMATA Board of Directors Chair Paul C. Smedberg. “We’re deeply thankful for the work of our region’s Congressional delegation to establish a long-term source of funding so we can continue to serve the public and bolster the independent oversight that is critical to maintaining trust with our customers.”
“WMATA is the backbone of our regional economy, and we are encouraged by the strong regional support for this WMATA reauthorization proposal,” said JB Holston, CEO of the Greater Washington Partnership, founding member of the MetroNow Coalition. “The federal government’s agencies and staff rely on WMATA -- not to mention our businesses, hundreds of thousands of essential workers, low-income families, and, yes, even tourists who are already starting to return to visit the seat of our shared government. Federal investment in WMATA is a not just a local or regional investment, it is a national investment that will help the region recover from the pandemic and build a more inclusive economy.”
“WMATA federal funding is critical for the District and region’s strong economic recovery, and essential for continued investment in efficient, equitable, and sustainable movement of our federal workforce and the region’s residents and visitors,” said Anthony Williams, CEO and Executive Director of the Federal City Council and founding member of the MetroNow Coalition. “We applaud the hard work of our regional delegation, and urge Congress to pass this WMATA reauthorization proposal into law.”
Prior to the pandemic, WMATA’s ridership had rebounded, growing by more than 20,000 trips per weekday in 2019, with total ridership reaching 182 million trips. Average weekday ridership that year was 626,000. 40 percent of Metro’s rush hour ridership was comprised of federal workers.
Text of the Metro Accountability and Investment Act is available here.