Listen to Wednesday's edition of "Ask the Governor"
McAuliffe makes $125 million commitment to Metro
by Amanda Iacone, WTOP.com
WASHINGTON — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has pledged to contribute an extra $125 million a year to support Metro, meeting a challenge from Maryland's governor that the four jurisdictions that pay for the transit service would all pitch in more funding.
Combined, the $500 million per year contribution would meet Metro's estimated cost to maintain and modernize the aging rail system.
McAuliffe said the funding would be permanent, not a short-term commitment. He plans to include the funding in the budget he will submit to the General Assembly in December.
McAuliffe said the additional funding — above and beyond Virginia's current contributions to the transit system — would be contingent on shrinking the size of Metro's governing board and on Maryland and D.C. pitching in the same amount along with the federal government.
"We're doing what we said we would do and it's time for the jurisdictions to put up, time to get into the game. If you don't do it, the responsibility of the failure of Metro will fall upon other jurisdictions — not Virginia. It will not be Virginia's fault," he said following an appearance on WTOP's "Ask the Governor" program Wednesday.
Next week, former U.S. Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood is expected to release his report on the state of Metro. McAuliffe hopes it will convince Virginia legislators to support long-term, dedicated funding for Metro.
He called the system vital to the region's economy and warned that if lawmakers don't act in the next few months, the board may be forced to make dramatic service cuts, which would likely reduce ridership and the revenue from fares needed to run the system.
Ridership has plummeted after a series of fires and derailments caused severe service disruptions and the death of a rider, exposing the deterioration of the rails and electrical equipment that run the rail service.
McAuliffe's successor, Gov.-elect Ralph Northam, will have an easier time rounding up support for dedicated Metro funding with 15 more Democrats — many of them from Northern Virginia — heading to the House of Delegates for the legislative session that begins in January.
Nov. 7 — a historic night
Election night was a historic night for Democrats, McAuliffe said. The party swept all three statewide races in addition to weakening Republican's power in the House.
But the Democratic candidates in three House races are likely to seek recounts, leaving control of the House in question.
And the results of two races in Stafford County and Fredericksburg are also in question after 147 voters were given the wrong ballot. The difference in the 28th District is just 82 votes.
McAuliffe said a new election is the only remedy to ensure those votes count.
"I don't care of if they're Democrat or Republican votes, you've just got to count every vote," he said.
If just one of the disputed races flips, it would leave the House with a 50-50 split.
"It is going to be a wild 60 days in Richmond, Virginia — assuming they can get a speaker," he said.