News Article

Maryland to get $213 million from the federal government to replace MTA light rail cars
February 20, 2024


By: Siobhan Garrett

A big investment from the federal government to improve the light rail system in the Baltimore area. Maryland’s congressional delegation announced more than $213 million from the Federal Transit Administration.

The money will go to the Maryland Transit Administration to support efforts to replace all 52 aging light rail cars in the fleet.

This comes two months after the entire light rail system was forced to shut down for emergency repairs.

That same month, MDOT revealed the deficit had grown to $3.3 billion, up from a $2.1 billion deficit that was shown in the department’s draft capital program released in September.

“Public transit is critical to the social and economic life of Baltimore, and light rail is an integral piece of that service, connecting people to their jobs, schools, neighborhoods, and more,” said Senator Ben Cardin in a statement on the funding.

“Light rail riders deserve a system that is safe and reliable. Replacing the aging, outdated cars with modern cars will improve safety and service and is another example of how the Biden administration’s critical investments are working to help rebuild our nation’s transportation systems.”

The State of Maryland is providing $90 million in matching funds and allocating $127.6 million in federal formula funds to the project.

The lawmakers wrote a letter to the Federal Transit Administration earlier this month in support of the MTA asking for funds to replace the aging cars. Some of those cars date back to 1992, when the system first launched, and have reached the end of their usefulness.

“Marylanders rely on our light rail system to move throughout the Baltimore region safely and efficiently,” said Congressman John Sarbanes.

“Currently, however, our aging fleet’s frequent service disruptions can make this a challenge. We recognize the burden unreliable transportation has on our constituents, which is why Team Maryland fought so hard to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to deliver these much-needed improvements for central Maryland commuters.”

The light rail system was shut down on December 8, 2023. Emergency inspections had to be made to the entire fleet due to potential issues with punctured conduits on light rail vehicles. This was discovered after a fire that happened back in October that injured one person.

It reopened again on December 23, 2023. At that time the agency had also applied for millions in federal grants to put toward Light Rail improvements.