Metro could lose $15 million in federal funding under President Obama’s 2013 budget proposal.
The president’s budget notes that “given the difficult fiscal circumstances,” he proposes to reduce Metro’s annual grant, known as PRIIA — or the Passenger Rail Improvement & Investment Act of 2008 — funding by $15 million.
In his proposal, it notes that the president’s surface transportation plan would “substantially increase overall transit funding.”
Metro counts on roughly $150 million a year in PRIIA funding to use toward its aggressive capital improvements plan. That money is matched by the local jurisdictions.
The money goes to fix a wide range of problems from escalators to repairing tracks, installing new switches and signals to buying a new fleet of rail cars to replace its old 1000 series and other work on the more than 30-year-old system.
Metro is expected to receive $475.5 million in federal funding in fiscal 2013 from the federal government, according to its proposed fiscal 2013 budget. About $308 million of that is formula funding while $167.2 million is PRIIA funding and small grants.
The PRIIA deal Metro has with the federal government is complicated because the federal funds are dependent on matching contributions from the three local jurisdictions and federal board members having seats on the Metro board.
Some Metro observers and board members said they worry those local funds could also be impacted. Transit officials said they plan to work with their local Congressional delegations to try to get the money restored.
Metro board chairman Cathy Hudgins said Monday that the PRIIA funding “has been an important part of rebuilding Metro.”
“Any reduction has an impact on safety and capital improvements,” she said.
Metro General Manager Richard Sarles said the PRIIA federal money is needed for the transit agency to “continue crucial safety and reliability work” so it can do work to “provide a safer and more reliable ride” for customers.
Metro is considering a fare hike this year to help balance its budget as it is facing a $116 million deficit. It is also asking jurisdictions to put in more money to close the gap.
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