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Washington Area Transit Authority expects $750M budget shortfall to affect services

Rebecca Barnabi
train tracks
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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) faces a $750 million budget shortfall that threatens safety and services starting next summer.

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner of Virginia, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, leads Sens. Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland in a letter to President Joe Biden requesting that the administration include at least $30 million in their fiscal year 2025 budget request for the WMATA to specifically address the agency’s operational costs related to national security and counterterrorism.

The senators’ letter stresses that WMATA, more than other transit authorities, shoulders a heavy security burden because of its role in federal government operations and national security activities. The agency estimates that it spends between $30 and $33 million annually on operations related to its national security and counterterrorism mission.

“Given this sui generis role played by WMATA, it should come as no surprise that the agency shoulders some burdens that are unique among transit providers. Perhaps most important of these burdens is WMATA’s responsibility to prevent terrorism targeting our Nation’s capital — a responsibility far out of proportion to the size of the system,” the senators wrote.

The responsibility of WMATA is more than hypothetical, the letter states.

“In 2010, an anti-government extremist opened fire at the Pentagon station. A year later, a man was convicted in connection with the targeting of four WMATA stations in a terrorist bomb plot. And let us not forget that it was a Metro Transit Police officer who, while assisting Capitol Police, discovered the bomb planted at the Democratic National Committee on January 6, 2021,” the senators wrote.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.