Government waste: federal employees’ mass transit subsidies nearly doubling

WMATA_metro_center_crossvaultIt didn’t take long for the fruits of the fiscal cliff deal to begin falling from the government apple tree. This week, federal employees in the Washington, D.C. area woke up to a nice notice informing them the cap on their mass transit subsidy will be going back up to $240.00 a month. In 2011, the subsidy was reduced to $125.00. Increasing the subsidy to $240 is nearly doubling the monthly allotment.

In spite of record deficits, the federal government uses your tax dollars to pay government employees to use mass transit for their commute to work. Some may think this is great because it helps the environment. The problem is that the government is also using your tax dollars to help pay government employees to park their personal cars in the Capitol. So much for a reduction in government spending or greenhouse gases.

Making this subsidy even more egregious is the fact that one in five federal employees in the DC area make over $100,000.00 a year. For perspective, when you combine salary and benefits, the average federal worker makes twice as much as the average private sector worker.

If the whole thing seems like a scam you would be right. The Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is losing more money than it takes in. WMATA falsely believed the solution to their money problems was to increase the cost to ride their buses and rail lines, and in the summer of 2012 WMATA increased their rates for the second time in two years.

Not surprisingly, ridership has fallen and WMATA is projected to make $5 million less than they originally predicted for the year. For some reason the they seem shocked by the fact that people do not like to pay higher prices for a product that has been steadily declining in both quality and service for years. Combine the fare hikes with the recent reduction in gas prices and the choice becomes clear.

This is nothing more than the government giving a backdoor bailout to a failing transit system. Unfortunately, with the politicians believing in the old adage, “government programs never fail, they’re just underfunded,” WMATA is not likely to feel any long-term pain resulting from their failed fare hikes. If only the same could be said for the private sector worker stuck paying for their own ticket and the ticket of the federal worker sitting next to them.


  1. abaworlock says:

    Its OK, Obama is going to raise the ceiling and he still has blank checks left. So he has everything under control.

  2. It looks like the original bill was passed in april of 2000, making George W the man who authorized it in the first place. Cheers.

  3. slckusr,

    Thanks for reading the story!

    Although, I’m not really sure of the point you were trying to make. If you were trying to say no party has a monopoly on bad ideas, I 100% agree.

    If you are saying I can’t criticize the president because the past president is guilty of similar offenses, I 100% disagree. I march in lock-step behind no party, or politician. Had I not been a self absorbed college kid in 2000, I may have opined on it.

    Either way, it doesn’t matter because your facts are wrong. Yes, the original bill was passed on April 21, 2000. However, President Bush didn’t actually become president until Jan 20, 2001. This would mean Bill Clinton was the signer of the original bill.


    Jason Blair

  4. When we are facing a debt and deficit crisis increasing federal employees’ transportation allowance is the same as increasing their pay. (Oh, wait, Obama did that too.) The private sector has had to suck it up, so should the public sector. Everyone should pay their fair share, right Mr. President?

  5. So what of the thousands of federal employees making less then $100k? Where I’m at there are 12 GS-pays grade which all make less then that, only three that do (13, 14, 15). The vast majority of federal employees are under GS-13. All cities are like this with the exception of D.C. Now, if you wanted to say “all federal employees making $100k+ are exempt from the $240” I would agree. Federal pay has been frozen for 3-years now. Pretty much everyone’s property tax goes up 1% a year, the freeze is actually pretty harmful when you think about it. I know, I know “but the military doesn’t get (insert slight here)….”, but they do get that 1%+. Digging out of debt cannot be done on the backs of federal employees, no matter how egregious you think the pay is.

  6. Paul, one of the many problems with this subsidy is it is only for government employees in the DC area – not nationwide. You say gov’t employees haven’t gotten a raise in 3 years. This is true, but they still get to make steps for seniority which gives them a pay increase, and promotions to higher ratings haven’t stopped (provided they are in a job is eligible to go to a higher rating and/or step that isn’t topped out). Private Civilians are in the same bucket, they too are feeling the pinch – many without raises either, only they don’t get the luxury of being next to impossible to fire, have great retirement benefits, and quality healthcare.

    You’re right, we’re not going to balance the budget on the backs of gov’t employees, but giving an increase to a transit subsidy when we have acknowledged there is a major debt crisis is more than irresponsible, especially when done on the backs of civilians AND every gov’t worker outside of the DC area.


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