HYATTSVILLE, MD — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin today joined with officials from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to urge the House of Representatives to pass the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) surface transportation bill so that WMATA can move forward with important maintenance and safety projects.
On March 14, the Senate passed MAP-21 by a vote of 74-22. The $109 billion, two-year transportation bill provides funding for the nation’s highway and public transportation programs. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that MAP-21 will support 1.9 million jobs nationwide and a total of 30,000 jobs in Maryland and nearly 8,000 rail and bus jobs with Metro.
“WMATA and other public transit systems around the nation are waiting for the House to take action on a transportation reauthorization bill that had strong bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “Safety of the traveling public and jobs that will help restore our economic health depend on the passage of this legislation. The time for delay is over; when Congress returns from its Easter/Passover recess, I urge members of the House to act swiftly to pass this measure.”
MAP-21 will also allow WMATA to move forward with 140 major capital projects, many of which involve safety improvements and equipment upgrades. These projects include:
- Implement National Transportation Safety Board’s (NSTB) Safety Recommendations: These include improvements recommended by the NSTB following the June 2009 crash on the Red Line. The first $1 billion of WMATA’s capital program is dedicated to addressing these safety recommendations.
- Replacement of Outdated Rail Cars: Metro is replacing its outdated 35-year-old “1000 Series” rail cars and purchasing 300 modern “7000 Series” rail cars.
- Modernizing the Bus Fleet: Metro needs to rehabilitate 100 buses annually over a six-year period. The new buses will include hybrid electric buses and updated security and mechanical systems.
- Rehabilitate Bus Facilities: This overhaul of bus facilities will include facilities that were put into operation 90 years ago and will increase overall safety and efficiency.
- Repair Rail Lines and Tracks: To improve safety, reliability and performance, Metro plans to ensure 60 miles of track are brought into a “state of good repair” over the next six years.
MAP-21 also contains a provision that Senator Cardin championed that would increase to $240 the monthly tax benefit for using transit while also restoring parity between the monthly transit and commuter parking benefits. More than 250,000 daily Metro riders take advantage of the federal transit benefit, which is essential to helping working families save money on their transportation expenses, reduce fuel consumption and ease congestion in the Greater Washington Area and in other metropolitan areas around the nation.
The entire WMATA system is a fundamental part of the region’s transportation infrastructure. The average number of weekday rail and bus trips is 1.2 million. The average number of weekday rail trips is about 750,000 while the average number of weekday bus trips is about 450,000.