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Tysons Partnership Calls on Congress to Support Transit Relief Bill

The Tysons Partnership has joined calls for federal legislators to give mass transit a financial boost as public transportation systems reel from dropping ridership levels and other impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Charged with implementing the vision in Fairfax County’s Tysons Comprehensive Plan, the Partnership said yesterday (Tuesday) that its leaders sent a letter to members and stakeholders asking them to advocate for transit relief to their Congress members.

“There will be profound economic harm caused by transit service cuts in all urban centers that depend on transit to move people in [and] out of work, home, shopping and entertainment,” Tysons Partnership President and CEO Sol Glasner said.

Local elected leaders and transportation officials have stepped up their appeals for Congress to include public transit in a coronavirus relief package since Metro unveiled a sobering budget plan that includes drastic service cuts to compensate for an anticipated deficit of nearly $500 million.

In addition to closing 19 stations, including ones at McLean and Greensboro, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget would eliminate rail service on the weekends and reduce it to every half hour on weekdays. Bus service would also drop from 60 to 41 routes.

The WMATA board of directors voted on Dec. 10 move the proposal forward and authorize a public hearing on it in January or February. The board must adopt its next operating budget in March.

“If implemented, these transit cuts could be devastating to Tysons,” Glasner said. “Economic growth and development in Tysons may slow significantly as employers, retailers, employees and residents reconsider their respective commitments to a location in which the urban vision rests on the premise of access to transit.”

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and other transportation agencies in the region have been rallying in support of federal transit funding.

The NVTA included a call for additional federal COVID-19 funding for transit in its 2021 federal legislative program, stating that WMATA is critical to the federal workforce as well as first responders, healthcare workers, and other essential employees.

“At a time when we are looking to recover from the economic impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, it doesn’t make sense that our federal government would not prioritize transit systems that serve our federal capital and our national economic centers,” Glasner said.

According to the Tysons Partnership, Congress is currently negotiating a federal funding bill that allocates $15 billion to transit. The American Public Transportation Association says that public transportation around the country needs at least $32 billion in emergency funds to survive.

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