Chapters 854 and 856 of the 2018 General Assembly made significant changes to the allocation of funding to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). It created the WMATA Capital Fund and provided dedicated funds from multiple funding sources including: 1/3 motor vehicle rental tax, $20 million of NVTD local recordation tax, 2% NVTC regional fuel tax, $27.1 million in FY 2019 of NVTA local taxes, 2% NVTC occupancy tax, and $.15 of $100 NVTC grantor’s tax. This Fund is estimated to provide an additional $154 million in capital funds to WMATA annually.
Additionally, Chapters 854 and 856 of the 2018 General Assembly enacted significant reforms to the Commonwealth Mass Transit Fund, including a proscribed formula for the CTB’s annual allocations by program. 53.5 percent of this fund is dedicated to WMATA Operating and Capital. The remainder of the fund is dedicated to Statewide Operating (31%), Statewide Capital (12.5%), and Special (3%).
In 2017, Governor McAuliffe asked former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to conduct an objective comparison of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's condition relative to its peers in order to look for opportunities for improvement and dispel myths about what needs to be done to fix the system.
Secretary LaHood was Secretary of Transportation under President Obama as well as a former Congressman from Illinois.
On December 5th, Secretary LaHood released his final report.
WMATA Quarterly Updates
The 2017 General Assembly passed HB 2136 requiring:
That the Secretary of Transportation, in coordination with the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, shall engage his counterparts in Maryland and Washington, D.C., and the appropriate officials in the federal government for the purpose of revising the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Compact of 1966 and implementing other reforms necessary to ensure the near-term and long-term viability of the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA). In doing so, the Secretary shall develop, propose, and seek agreement on reforms related to the following: (i) the legal and organizational structure of WMATA; (ii) the composition and qualifications of the WMATA Board of Directors and the length of terms of its members; (iii) labor costs and labor relations; (iv) measures necessary to resolve WMATA's unfunded pension liability and other postemployment benefits; (v) measures necessary to better ensure the safety of riders and employees, including safety in the event of a homeland security emergency in the national capital area; and (vi) financial and operational improvements necessary to ensure that WMATA’s performance is at least as efficient as its closest comparable transit systems in the United States. The Secretary shall report to and consult quarterly beginning June 30, 2017, with the Chairmen of the House and Senate Transportation Committees regarding activity taken in accordance with this enactment.
Below are the updates that the Secretary of Transportation has provided to the General Assembly.
Commonwealth Transportation Board Oversight
Chapters 854 and 856 of the 2018 Acts of Assembly directs the Commonwealth Transportation to provide oversight to WMATA and, in certain instances, withhold funding. At its September 2018 meeting, the Commonwealth Transportation Board passed a resolution with guidelines and direction on the oversight and withholding.