ANNAPOLIS — Maryland senators unanimously voted Friday to give Metro $167 million to make the nation’s second-largest transit agency safer and more reliable.
The money marks the first-time dedicated funding will be provided to Metro since its rail service began in 1976.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., who has been a state lawmaker for more than 40 years, recalled when lawmakers from rural areas refused to support funding Metro.
“The Washington Metro belongs to our nation’s capital. We benefit from it greatly,” Miller, who represents both Prince George’s and Calvert counties, said after the vote. “The fact that we got senators from all 24 counties and Baltimore City supporting funding, it’s a momentous victory.”
The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Brian Feldman of Montgomery County, who called the vote “historic.”
“It is a vote that has been elusive in the D.C. region for literally over 40 years,” Feldman said.
Although the House approved its version earlier this month, its legislation set aside up to $150 million. Delegate Marc Korman of Montgomery County, who sponsored House bill, said his colleagues would only need to approve the $167 million figure and other minor changes.
A vote on the bill is expected as early as next week. If approved, it would then be sent to the governor’s desk for his signature.
The money would come from the state’s Transportation Trust Fund, which will result in some state road and bridge projects being scaled back.
Lawmakers in Virginia approved $154 million in Richmond and D.C. officials have already agreed to establish a funding source to contribute $178 million, which, when combined with Maryland, would equal the $500 million Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld requested last year from the three jurisdictions. The money for the agency would be used to upgrade Metrorail stations, purchase new buses and other capital improvements.
“We are extremely grateful to the Maryland Senate for their unanimous support of dedicated funding to address [Metro’s] capital needs,” said Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly. “The vote demonstrates the critical role [Metro] plays in the economic vitality in the state of Maryland. We look forward to passage by the House next week.”