Connolly: Metro Issues Caused ‘Crisis of Confidence’ in Riders, Congress

Connolly also pushed for more federal funding for WMATA. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Connolly also pushed for more federal funding for WMATA. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted October 16, 2015 at 2:13pm

One Virginia lawmaker said Friday that safety and management issues surrounding Washington’s transit system has caused a “crisis of confidence” among riders and lawmakers.  

“I think that one of the consequences of this drip, drip, drip of safety concerns is a crisis of confidence in the riders and in stakeholders, including stakeholders in Congress,” Rep. Gerald E. Connolly said on WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi
Show , when asked about the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s ability to request assistance from Congress. Connolly called for a permanent general manager and said the federal government should make a larger financial investment in the system, which services the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland.  

“In my view, the federal government is the biggest beneficiary of Metro,” Connolly said, noting thousands of federal workers and visitors to the nation’s capital use the transit system.  

Recent issues regarding safety and service resulted in a federal takeover of oversight of the Metro system last week. On Oct. 9, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced he would direct the Federal Transit Administration to “directly enforce and investigate the safety oversight” of the system until the three regions can establish a functioning oversight agency. Both Foxx and the National Transportation Safety Board deemed the previous oversight agency, known as the Tri-State Oversight Committee, ineffective.  

WMATA is also facing a potential federal funding cut of $50 million. While congressional Democrats and Republicans from the national capital region say the safety issues demonstrate the need for more funding, not less, Republicans on the Appropriations Committee cited financial mismanagement and safety issues during the debate over funding.