Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board approves new funding policies for VRE and WMATA

Sept. 21, 2023
The policies change the way the VRE is funded and reforms the governance and funding of the WMATA.

The Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) has approved new policies that change the way the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) is funded and reforms the governance and funding of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

The policies are a result of legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2023. The goal of the legislation was to ensure state funds are allocated effectively and bring more accountability to the performance of both systems. VRE will now be allocated funding based on metrics that are specific to the commuter rail system’s needs. State oversight of WMATA will increase and the amount the commonwealth can provide them in operating and capital assistance is capped. These changes are supported by the General Assembly, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, VRE and WMATA.

“VRE and WMATA provide essential services to the people who live and work in the region,” said Jennifer DeBruhl, director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT). “The reforms implemented by CTB will lead to improved transparency, accountability, and financial responsibility. I am proud of the collaborative efforts that led to these policies. Northern Virginia’s transit needs are constantly evolving and our policies must evolve with it.”

VRE and WMATA play a crucial role in supporting the economy and vitality of the region. The systems connect thousands of people every day to jobs, local businesses, doctor’s appointments and more. The areas near stops draw housing and business developments. The new policies will help ensure VRE and WMATA can operate effectively and best serve all those who rely on them.

Other CTB action

The CTB also approved changes to the Transit Ridership Incentive Program (TRIP). Originally, the DRPT-managed program funded two project types: Regional connectivity and zero- and reduced-fare. The General Assembly passed legislation dedicating TRIP funding to two additional project types: Improvements to bus amenities and passenger facilities and addressing public safety. The policy provides the framework for the implementation of the additional project types, including eligibility requirements and evaluation criteria.