White House budget would cut funding for Metro safety improvements

Local leaders are not happy after learning President Obama is proposing a budget that would cut funding the system is using to make safety improvements.

For several years the federal government has given Metro $150 million in taxpayer money to help pay for safety-related improvements. As part of the deal, DC, Maryland, and Virginia match that amount each year by chipping in $50 million each.

Now President Obama's budget proposes to cut the federal amount by $15 million.

That's left a lot of politicians bewildered and upset.

"Obama is proposing Metro funding cuts. This is too bad because DC has made a financial commitment here that is not small," DC Council member Jim Graham wrote in a tweet.

"Fact of the matter is that a $15 million dollar funding cut to Metro by the US is like the DC gov saving five hundred dollars," he added later on Twitter.

The White House's budget is just a proposal at this point, and Congress will get a say before any cuts could become reality.

Two weeks ago, a number of area congressman signed a letter urging their leaders not to cut anything from the $150 million amount.

In the letter the representatives pointed out that 40% of Metro's rush hour riders are federal employees, and half of Metro's stations are on federal property. They indicated those were good reasons for the federal government not to go back on the amount of funding it had pledged.

The letter also pointed out that Metro has been doing things like hiring extra safety staff and buying newer, safer trains for people to ride in.

11th District U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly of Virginia, 8th District U.S. Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia, 5th District U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, 8th District U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, DC elected representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, 10th District U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia, and 4th District U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland all signed the letter, which was addressed to the chairman and ranking member of the House subcommittee that will deal with the issue.