Representatives of local governing bodies across the District are calling on D.C. government officials for a “renewed focus” on equitable public transportation and increased support for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners that extends beyond government-issued parking passes.
As of Friday, more than 75 ANC commissioners cosigned a letter requesting officials incentivize and allocate more funds toward public transportation and traffic safety infrastructure in Wards 5, 7 and 8, where many residents rely on noncar transit and are subject to higher rates of traffic fatalities and public health effects like asthma, the letter states. Commissioners are also calling for increased support for ANCs, including adding office space, printing services and a stipend or salary after commissioners who signed the letter said the parking passes that D.C. provides upon their election reinforce existing transportation disparities.
The letter states at least 67 commissioners rejected their passes for the 2023-25 term.
Commissioners addressed the letter to Ward 6 Council member and Committee on Transportation and the Environment chair Charles Allen, At-Large Council member and Housing Committee chair Robert White and Executive Director of the Office of ANC Kent Boese. Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners Yannik Omictin of single-member district 2A01, Trupti Patel of 2A03 and Jordan Nassar of 2A08 have signed in support as of Friday.
“We call on the D.C. government, including the D.C. Council’s Committee on Transportation and the Environment, to meaningfully prioritize equity in public transportation and traffic safety infrastructure, centering those most impacted by our city’s inequities,” the letter states.
The letter encourages officials to redirect the funds D.C. spends on street parking upkeep – which they said totals about $1,750 to build and another $450 to maintain annually – toward improving nonvehicular transportation in the District, like incentives for biking and walking and Metro subsidies proposed in the Metro for D.C. Amendment Act of 2021.
The act, which awaits D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s signature, currently allocates $10 million per year to improve transit access or service in “historically underserved communities,” but the letter states that amount is not enough to execute its mission.
“We know ten million dollars will not go far in addressing public transportation and traffic safety infrastructure, and more money is likely necessary to meet the need,” the letter states.
The letter also encouraged commissioners from Wards 5, 7 and 8 to form a group that assists the D.C. Council transportation committee in its policy-making and budget work, including the Metro Amendment Act’s implementation. The letter states the D.C. government’s issuance of parking passes to commissioners is a “deflection” of their real governing needs that reinforces inequities in D.C. because commissioners in “transit-starved” neighborhoods are forced to rely on the parking pass, while those from neighborhoods with more public transit access can more easily ignore using the pass.
Some commissioners rejected using their passes in the 2019 and 2021 terms. The letter proposes bolstering “equivalent incentives” to commissioners who ride Metro, bike and walk instead of spending the funds on passes.
“The D.C. government, including the D.C. Council’s Committee on Housing and the Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, should holistically assess the money it is willing to provide to support Commissions and whether ‘free’ parking is where that money should go,” the letter states.