A House subcommittee, balking at the Reagan administration's budget-cutting plans, voted yesterday to provide more than $200 million in federal funds for Metro subway construction next year, an allotment needed mainly to expand the long-delayed Green Line in Prince George's County.
The subcommittee's action marked the first congressional test of President Reagan's proposal to cut off all federal spending for Metro construction after the current fiscal year. The president's recommendation has jeopardized Metro's plans to expand the rail system to 89.5 miles by 1994.
In a closed session, the transportation subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee earmarked $217.2 million for Metro for fiscal 1987, the same level as this year. The move was hailed as a victory by Reps. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) and Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), two Metro advocates.
House Appropriations subcommittees took key actions yesterday on several other transportation issues in the Washington area:
The District subcommittee voted to clear the way for a controversial change in city taxicab rates. The move would allow the District government to eliminate the current system, under which rates are set by zones, and to require meters in taxis as early as next year.
Rep. Stan Parris (R-Va.), who has pressed for taxi metering, said the plan would provide "safeguards against inflated fares and fraudulent tax reporting" and would lead to improved taxi service and safety. Under the measure, Congress would be allowed 90 days to block any city proposal for taxi metering.
The transportation subcommittee adopted an amendment aimed at sidetracking a hotly debated plan to transfer control of National and Dulles International airports to a regional authority. Airport transfer legislation was approved by the Senate in April, but has encountered stiff opposition in the House.
The amendment by Rep. Bob Carr (D-Mich.) would allot $50 million for improvements at the two airports next year.
A spokesman for Carr said the proposal was designed to blunt arguments by transfer advocates, who contend that improvements can only be carried out under a regional authority.
A spokesman for Wolf criticized the amendment as "premature."
The Metro allotment, which was included in an overall appropriations measure for national transportation programs, was described as a breakthrough in the subway system's efforts to win further federal aid from Congress.
The Reagan administration has urged Congress to withhold $743 million previously authorized for Metro.
Senate prospects for the measure appear uncertain. However, Senate and House budget plans recently called for $217.2 million in Metro spending next year. Wolf termed the funds "critical" and Hoyer said the subcommittee-approved level was "as low as we can possibly go and complete the necessary work."
Under recent Metro plans, the allotment would be earmarked chiefly to complete a section of the Green Line between Prince George's Plaza and College Park. The Green Line, Metro's only unopened subway route, has been delayed by court challenges, neighborhood controversies and shortages of funds.
Metro's plans face other obstacles, including a refusal by the Reagan administration to release nearly $400 million in available funds. Officials say the money is needed to complete sections of the Green Line in the District and Prince George's, along with extensions of the Red and Yellow lines.
Also included in the subcommittee's measure were $9 million for renovation work on the deteriorating Baltimore-Washington Parkway and $10 million for improvements of Rte. 1 in Arlington County.