Metro service could be very different in the next fiscal year if the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s “doomsday budget” is approved. WMATA is asking for feedback through a survey.

As mentioned before, I want WMATA to retain and/or expand existing service. As an 8W/21C bus rider, these are my specific targets. Right now, those bus routes and many others, are not funded for FY2025.

The political headwinds are strong. Gov. Glenn Youngkin is more focused on supply-side economics/building a arena for billionaire Ted Leonsis, though he has not completely dismissed providing funds for the agency. I don’t have high expectations for a multi-millioniare private-equity executive from Great Falls to see the big picture on mobility though.

Perhaps more disappointing is Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman L. Louise Lucas:

“I feel like Metro has not done a good job of managing their resources,” she told reporters after the meeting. “They need to get their act together … I decided not to put a dime in, and I know that makes 12 [Senate] members from Northern Virginia unhappy, but guess what? It’s a new day in the commonwealth.”

Lucas’s comments about Metro line up with criticism that Youngkin — someone she rarely agrees with — has made about the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority. WMATA said in December that it faces a $750 million budget shortfall and needs increased contributions from its regional members, which includes Maryland, the District and Virginia.

Until recently, Youngkin had been unwilling to increase Virginia’s contributions until the Metro system fixes what he views as inefficient operations. But in January, he made an unspecified commitment to boost Metro funding as leading Democrats argued that an increase would be a condition for supporting the arena project.

Va. Senate budget scraps Metro funding, arena — setting up battle with House – The Post

I’m curious if either official has details on what constitutes efficiency in their eyes. Frankly, I think the trains are running better than they have in 10 years of daily commuting. It’s been great, I have had *one* bad rail commute since September. Can motorists make the same claim? The bus on the other hand, is running at 24 minute headways which is not terribly inviting. Thankfully, I can schedule my work day so that I leave at regular times.

I’m quite curious what Sen. Adam Ebbin has to say. Hopefully, we’ll get some comments on the record soon. I imagine this is hardball from a downstate legislator, but it’s still concerning that in about four months, there may no longer be working transit in the region.

Additionally, I am impressed with WMATA GM Randy Clarke. His enthusiasm for mass transit is palpable and I believe he can navigate the post-pandemic challenges well, provided he has the support.

Hopefully, this is all just bad political theater, but I’m speaking up either way.

In addition to filling out the survey, please consider contacting the offices of Sen. Lucas, Sen. Ebbin and Gov. Youngkin.

Sen. Lucas

District Office

P.O. Box 700
Portsmouth, VA 23705-0700
Phone: (757) 397-8209
Fax: (757) 966-9671

Sen. Ebbin

District Office

P. O. Box 26415
Alexandria, VA 22313
Phone: (571) 384-8957

If you are elsewhere in Virginia and want to contribute to keeping mobility for Northern Virginia, please contact your senator.

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