CSG Remarks to NoVa Legislative Delegation  in support of Metro Funding

Thank you, Delegation Chair Watts and delegation members. I am Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, founded in 1997. We earned the Council of Governments Regional Partnership Award for working with officials on the COG Region Forward plan and its vision for a network of walkable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable way for the region to grow – a vision adopted fully by Northern Virginia localities in their comprehensive plans.

We have a web of partners across Virginia, DC and Maryland who join us in strongly supporting Metro funding as the most important transportation investment you can make.

General Manager Clarke is an inspiring and focused leader and manager. Under GM Clarke, Metro has restored frequent, reliable, safe service as the best way to win ridership. Paraphrasing soccer player Danny Vargas on Ted Lasso — “frequency is life!”

Transit is key for people to escape poverty and climb the economic ladder, it is key to attracting the next generation workforce, and it is key for providing an alternative to sitting in congestion and polluting our air.

We would not have attracted Amazon to Arlington without Metro, nor other Fortune 500 headquarters including Nestle, VW, Boeing, Raytheon, and Hilton. This is why our business partners at the Greater Washington Board of Trade and Greater Washington Partnership have been so focused on supporting Metro funding and improvements, including the Bus Transformation Project.

Metro is essential for fighting climate change and we have just 6 years to meet our goal to slash emissions by 50%. We cannot meet this goal without Metro, transit-oriented communities, and safer walking and biking.

We would match WMATA up against any of the large transit systems in our country for the quality, safety, and reliability of its service. And it is orders of magnitude safer than our road network. It is a valuable and wise and critical investment.

We are very appreciative of Senator Marsden and Delegate Sickles for their budget amendment for $65 million in additional operating funding in FY25 and FY26.

Although, given the value of Metro to Virginia, and the staffing concerns that the GM just highlighted – we hold out hope for a level of funding that will avoid service cuts, while minimizing fare increases, and minimizing the – less-than-ideal – shifting of preventative maintenance funds to operating needs.

You can see from the prior presentation the great progress we have made in focusing development at transit and the important plans the region has for a more sustainable future based on transit-oriented communities.

Investing in transit (both operating and capital needs) SHOULD be our top priority to support the walkable, transit-accessible communities that are key to a sustainable, inclusive, and competitive future.