For Immediate Release: June 22, 2023
Stewart Schwartz, CSG, (703) 599-6437
Failure is Not an Option
The Coalition for Smarter Growth calls for urgent action by region’s elected officials to provide dedicated funding to close WMATA’s operating shortfalls
Today, WMATA General Manager Randy Clarke and his top staff briefed the WMATA Board on the projected $750 million shortfall for FY25, with recurring deficits beyond if the long-standing structural funding issues continue.
“Our Metro system – rail and bus – is the backbone of our region’s economy and transportation system. Failure to meet the funding need would mean massive cuts to rail and bus service that would mean the end of transit as a reliable option for hundreds of thousands of everyday riders in the DC region. It would mean traffic gridlock, people losing jobs because they’ve lost their transportation, economic decline, and more air pollution,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth (CSG).
From today’s WMATA presentation:
- Rail and bus service would be cut 67 percent with no service after 9:30pm. All but 37 of 135 bus lines would be eliminated
- Remaining customers would experience 20- to 30-minute waits on all rail and bus lines
- Cuts to fixed-route service would reduce MetroAccess service area and operating hours
“These cuts would eliminate all of the progress WMATA has made and undermine the success this region has achieved as a national leader in transit-oriented development,” said Schwartz.
The dedicated capital funding that CSG helped to win with non-profit partners and the business community in 2018 enabled WMATA to do the much needed rehabilitation of our 50-year-old Metro system. And now, WMATA is on the comeback trail from the twin hits of the pandemic and 7000 railcar series issues. Bus ridership has almost fully recovered and a bus network redesign offers the opportunity for more frequent, reliable, and extended service. The 7000 series railcars are coming back online and the return of high-frequency service is attracting riders back and leading to 84% customer satisfaction.
Regional data shared by WMATA shows that the land within ½ mile of Metrorail and bus stops in the Compact region captures:
- 60% of our region’s population or 2.8 million people
- 70% of jobs or 1.7 million jobs
- 50% of employers or 134,400 businesses
The land within ½ mile of Metrorail stations which occupies just 3% of the land provides
- 30% of property value ($328 billion) and 40% of jobs
- 65% of new office development and 50% of new apartments
- 25% of affordable housing
- 13 Fortune 500 headquarters
To build upon this success, the region has also committed to locate 75% of new jobs and housing near high-capacity transit stations.
Recently the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission study showed the benefits of WMATA for the state of Virginia, generating $1 billion annually in personal income and sales taxes, 5% of the general fund revenues. For every $1 Virginia invests in transit, transit generates $1.60 in revenues for the state.
“Failure cannot be an option. Our region’s elected officials must make it a top priority to come together with a long-term and dedicated funding solution for operating needs,” said Schwartz. “The 2024 Maryland and Virginia General Assembly sessions are just seven months away and our elected officials – Governors, Mayors, Senators, Delegates, Councils and Supervisors – must have a solution lined up by then,” concluded Schwartz.
The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington DC region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Our mission is to advocate for walkable, bikeable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the Washington, DC region to grow and provide opportunities for all.