Federal funding for the Metro in Washington, D.C., could get cut in half thanks to a new bill spearheaded by some Congressional Republicans via the House Appropriations Committee. Even though $150 million has been designated for Metro maintenance and development in the District since 2008, this latest move would allocate only $75 million, according to the Washington Post.
The proposed cut comes after a report showing a decline in ridership for the first time in 15 years was released last year by WMATA. The decline was attributed to an increase in telecommuting and fewer federal jobs. (New York’s MTA recently touted that its subway ridership numbers were at a 65-year high.)
The proposed bill would be in direct conflict with the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA), which promised $1.5 billion for the Metro over 10 years beginning in 2008. Until now, Republicans had not controlled both houses since PRIIA was initiated.
Some House members believe the cuts would be a disservice to the region’s transit riders.
“Providing anything less than the federal commitment of $150 million would jeopardize rider safety and the successful partnership with Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia to fund the purchase of new rail cars and vital safety improvements throughout the system,” eight House members said in a statement.
Numerous Metro accidents over the years have raised safety concerns among riders.
“It really feels like a betrayal of trust,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) told the Post. “It also is a failure to recognize that Metro is the nation’s transit system. How does Washington, D.C., the capital of the free world, run without a significant, sustained investment in Metro?”
Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.