ANNAPOLIS — State lawmakers continue work on ways to fund and improve Metro, but a bill proposed Wednesday aims to revamp the transit agency’s board of directors.
The legislation presented before the Senate’s finance committee dictates that Maryland’s two voting board members either be the state’s transportation secretary, the secretary’s designee or an employee of the transportation department, as well as having transit-related experience.
The governor would appoint a person from both Prince George’s and Montgomery counties to serve on the board, one of whom would serve as an alternate.
D.C., Maryland, Virginia and the federal government each have two voting members and two alternates on the board.
According to the bill, the governor’s two appointees:
• may not hold an elected office at any time during the appointment;
• must be a regular Metro passenger and customer of bus or transit service; and
• must submit reports to the governor and county executives each year.
“We’re putting someone in with all that background and direct, political accountability to the executive branch,” said Sen. Brian Feldman of Montgomery County, who sponsored the legislation. “It’s putting somebody there who is far better equipped with relevant knowledge to serve on that board.”
He said the bill is similar to D.C.’s designation of its director of transportation to serve on the board.
Although the jurisdictions must agree on certain policies regarding Metro, Feldman said his legislation strictly affects Maryland and how it wants to appoint personnel to the board.
However, lawmakers in Virginia want to shrink the size of the 16-member board. Joe McAndrew, director of transportation policy with the Greater Washington Partnership in northwest D.C. and a supporter of Feldman’s legislation, suggested lawmakers eliminate Metro’s jurisdictional veto, which allows members on Metro’s board from one area to block any proposal.
Sens. Joanne Benson and Jim Rosapepe, who represent Prince George’s County, wants the county delegation to review the bill, especially if it doesn’t have any direct correlation to increasing funds for Metro.
Hearings will take place next week in both chambers on a proposal to commit $125 million annually from the state’s transportation trust fund toward capital costs for Metro.
“We are less concerned about the little politics that people in Virginia seem to be very interested in,” Rosapepe said. “We’re more interested in the substance of making sure … trains run, making sure the service is provided, people can afford it and making sure we get development around Metro stops.”