Congressman John Delaney

Representing the 6th District of Maryland
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Delaney Introduces WMATA Improvement Act

Feb 16, 2017
Press Release
Bill requires broad changes to Metro governance and operations within 18 months, increases funding for Metro

WASHINGTON – Congressman John K. Delaney (MD-6) filed legislation today to implement comprehensive reforms to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and increase federal funding for WMATA. Congressman Delaney’s WMATA Improvement Act includes an additional $150 million in annual funding ($75 million from the federal government, $75 million total from the three jurisdictions), provided that WMATA and the member jurisdictions upgrade governance and management and certify that the system’s collective bargaining agreement allows WMATA to improve system safety for riders and employees, reliability and customer service while maintaining key wage protections. If changes are not made within 18 months, Congress withdraws its consent from the WMATA Compact. (Full bill summary below.)

“Metro needs big improvements and riders can’t wait any longer,” said Congressman Delaney. “The problems facing Metro have been widely understood for a very long time and my constituents have endured a long decline in safety, reliability and service. The WMATA Improvement Act tackles the causes of Metro’s decline comprehensively, changing the governance structure so that a new culture can be created and providing additional funding. This legislation removes the brakes that have held back reform for too long. We give the jurisdictions a powerful two-pronged incentive – more funding coupled with a ticking clock on the Compact – to take two necessary actions: create a world-class Board of Directors for Metro comprised of experts with a fiduciary responsibility and make sure that management-labor provisions allow the system to perform better and become safer for everyone. As someone who represents thousands of Marylanders who depend upon Metro I believe that Congress cannot consent to a broken Metro forever and if these changes are not met we should withdraw from the Compact.”

In the last three weeks over 1700 Metro riders participated in Congressman Delaney’s Metro survey, overwhelmingly stressing that Metro needs to improve. Only 25% of respondents stated that in the last year Metro has improved.


The WMATA Improvement Act




  • The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), has been plagued with numerous incidents of compromised safety, including instances leading to injury and death, and consistent problems with reliability, which has led to a years-long decrease in ridership. This has put additional pressure on Metro’s finances and led to increased roadway gridlock in the region, impacting riders and non-riders alike.
  • WMATA’s Proposed FY 2018 Budget announced a significant operating budget shortfall that is “in part a product of Metro’s governance and funding structure, as well as Metro’s ridership decline in the face of Metro’s need to rebuild key system infrastructure.”
  • WMATA is currently governed by a 16 member Board of Directors, with four members appointed by each of the jurisdictions. Currently, there are no clearly defined qualifications for Board Members across all jurisdictions.


The Need:

  • WMATA needs Board Members with the skills and expertise necessary to run a transit agency of its size and importance to the federal government and the Capital region.
  • WMATA needs increased funding from all jurisdictions, including the federal government.
  • WMATA needs a collective bargaining agreement that provides Metro management with the flexibility to operate the system to a high level of service and safety for its riders and fair wages and safe working conditions for its employees. 
  • WMATA and the respective jurisdictions need a clear spur to action to guarantee comprehensive improvement to the system.


The WMATA Improvement Act:

  • Provides WMATA with an additional $150 million per year, with $75 million coming from the federal government and $25 million from each of the three jurisdictions (Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia).
  • To receive this additional funding, the three non-federal jurisdictions must take the following actions to ensure that WMATA is well-managed and positioned to succeed long-term:

1) Reforming WMATA’s Board of Directors:

  • Each Board Member must be certified experts in either transit, safety, management or finance, effective within 18 months;
  • The Board must have a primary fiduciary duty to WMATA;
  • The WMATA Board shall be compromised of nine members, who are all voting members: two appointed by each jurisdiction, along with the CEO of Metro

2) Certifying that WMATA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement Allows Necessary Improvements: The Board must certify that any amendments to the collective bargaining agreement allow WMATA to improve safety, reliability, and service and lower costs; while ensuring that any amendments comply with Transit 13(c) and Davis-Bacon requirements. 

  • Creates a forcing function for necessary change: If the jurisdictions have not implemented these changes within 18 months of the legislation’s enactment, the federal government withdraws its consent from WMATA’s Compact.
    • The legislation includes an option for a 3-month extension for good-faith progress.