Following inquiries by Virginia and Maryland’s Senators, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) disclosed last night that it is losing, on average, $400,000 each weekday during the government shutdown. In response, the Senators issued the following statement:
“At a time when Metro already is undertaking substantial, disruptive projects to improve safety and reliability, President Trump’s shutdown is jeopardizing the health and stability of the entire Metro system. This wasteful, destructive shutdown must come to an end.”
On Friday, Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), along with Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-MD), wrote to WMATA General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld, seeking information on the impact that the partial government shutdown has had on WMATA’s transit system, ridership, operational services, staffing, financial position, and infrastructure upgrades and maintenance.
In response, the Senators received a letter from Wiedefeld detailing the multiple ways in which President Trump’s government shutdown is harming WMATA’s safety and finances:
- According to Wiedefeld, “Our preliminary analysis estimates that for an average weekday when the government is closed, Metro is losing approximately $400,000 in fare and revenue.”
- Additionally, the shutdown is putting $638 million in federal transit funding in jeopardy. If a prolonged shutdown of the Department of Transportation leads to delays in certifying the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) by the April 15, 2019 statutory deadline, “the [Federal Transit Administration] indicates that it would be prohibited by law from issuing a total of $638 million in FY2019 federal transit funding to all transit providers across the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia,” according to the letter.
- As of January 10, the federal government owes Metro $33 million in unreimbursed expenses as a result of the shutdown. That number is expected to grow to $50 million by the end of this month.
- Other federal funding sources are also on hold, including a $20 million BUILD grant that Metro was awarded last year, and $15 million in grant revisions that are awaiting FTA review. According to Wiedefeld, “If the federal shutdown continues for an extended period, Metro will be forced to either turn to its Line of Credit (LOC) to support the Capital program, incurring additional costs, or defer important state-of-good-repair projects, which could undermine our recent reliability gains.”
- The combined shutdowns of the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service means environmental review work for a number of planned projects has also been delayed.
A copy of Wiedefeld’s full response to the Senators is available here.