Testimony before the WMATA 2025 Special Committee in Support of the WMATA Momentum Plan

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is the leading organization in the Washington D.C. region dedicated to making the case for smart growth. Our mission is to promote walkable, inclusive, and transit-oriented communities, and the land use and transportation policies and investments needed to make those communities flourish.

Having helped win remarkably strong regional consensus for transit-oriented development as the framework for regional growth — reflected in the Region Forward and Economy Forward vision plans of the Council of Governments, and in the priorities of local leaders — the Coalition for Smarter Growth views investment in the Next Generation of Transit as a top priority and essential for supporting this regional vision.

We view the Momentum plan as the vision and framework for setting regional transit investment priorities and for working with all of our jurisdictions to create an expanded, well-maintained, and seamlessly integrated transit system our region needs to remain healthy, prosperous, efficient and competitive.

The Coalition for Smarter Growth is fully committed to achieving the Next Generation of Transit, as reflected in our report earlier this year. Key components include:

  • Rehabilitating and improving our Metrorail system as the region’s top priority investment;
  • Ensuring high-capacity public transportation networks to support a sustainable region of livable, walkable centers, and neighborhoods;
  • Expanding and improving the bus system by adding more service and providing bus priority on roadways is critical to meeting growing ridership demand and using our roads more efficiently;
  • Seamlessly integrating, physically and operationally, Metrorail, new priority corridor networks, bus rapid transit, light rail, streetcars, commuter rail and our bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure.

The Momentum Strategic Plan effectively makes the case for the value of the Metro system to our region and of reinvesting and strategically expanding the system. We believe that WMATA, through an extensive consultation process with COG and the jurisdictions, is the best entity for leading the strategic planning for our region’s Next Generation of Transit.

Perhaps no statistic stands out in the Momentum plan more than the value of investing in 8-car trains, which provide 35% more capacity-equal to 35,000 more passengers per hour to jobs downtown. To achieve this with roads, we would need 16-18 new lanes of highways. For comparison, widening just 2.5 miles of I-95 recently cost state and federal taxpayers $261 million or $52 million per lane mile.

Other statistics that we find compelling are that:

  • Regional riders will save an additional $100 million per year by purchasing less fuel and other out-of-pocket travel costs.
  • The region will avoid building 30,000 new parking spaces, saving $675 million.

Investing in Metro is the most critical step in supporting compact, efficient transit-oriented development, lowering per capita infrastructure costs and saving land.

If we are to continue our regional success and grow without reaching total traffic gridlock, we must rehabilitate Metro, maximize the capacity of the existing system and strategically expand Metro and connecting transit services. This must be our top priority.

Thank you.

Stewart Schwartz
Executive Director