For Immediate Release:
August 24, 2023
Bill Pugh, CSG, (202) 821-3226
Saving Metro vs. Subsidizing the Commanders:
Closing the WMATA budget gap would cost a fraction per Metro system user compared to proposed subsidies for new Commanders stadium seats
WMATA (Metro), is facing a $750 million annual operating budget shortfall in Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25), starting July 1, 2024, just 10 months away. If our state and local governments in Maryland, Virginia and DC don’t step up to address the ongoing funding need, our region’s mass transit would suffer from catastrophic cuts.
At the same time, we’ve seen a lot of press attention to potential public subsidies for a new football stadium for the Washington Commanders. So, the Coalition for Smarter Growth compared the cost of closing the WMATA budget gap to recent Maryland and Virginia stadium subsidy proposals.
CSG’s analysis shows that the cost per Metro rider of closing the system’s forecast “fiscal cliff” operating deficit is less than 1/10 of last year’s proposed state subsidy packages per stadium fan. Moreover, funding ALL state and local Metro subsidies is still a better deal than proposed Commanders subsidies
“Our analysis shows that there should be as much and certainly more enthusiasm in Richmond, Annapolis and DC for maintaining and enhancing our critical Metro system as there is for subsidizing an already lucrative professional sports franchise,” said Stewart Schwartz, CSG Executive Director. “Sports fans, tourists, workers, families, businesses and our regional and state economy all depend on frequent and reliable Metro service.”
“Saving Metro and our region’s economy is a relative bargain for the benefits they bring,” said Bill Pugh, CSG Senior Policy Fellow and author of the analysis.
For example, a recent Northern Virginia Transportation Commission study showed the benefits of WMATA and other Northern Virginia transit services for the state of Virginia: generating $1 billion annually in personal income and sales taxes, and 5% of the general fund revenues. Overall, for every $1 Virginia invests in transit, transit generates $1.60 in revenues for the state. The benefits for Maryland are likely similar and for DC even greater.
“When we consider that just 3% of the region’s land is within ½-mile of a Metro station, yet that land provides 30% of its property value and 40% of jobs, the priority for our elected officials should be obvious,” said Pugh.
“We urge Governors Youngkin and Moore, Mayor Bowser, and all local and state legislators to make Metro funding their top transportation priority,” said 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.