WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Jim Webb (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) today announced the Continuing Resolution (CR) negotiated with the House of Representatives to fund the federal government through September 20, 2011 includes $150 million for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). The legislation requires that the highest priority be given to capital projects that will improve safety at WMATA.
The District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia will match the federal funding for a total of $300 million to make safety improvements at WMATA.
“This funding will help keep Metro on track for the millions of Marylanders and visitors to our Nation’s Capital who rely on safe and reliable transportation,” said Senator Cardin. “As our nation’s second-busiest rapid transit system, Metro helps to get our federal workers to their jobs and also is an integral part of the economic health of our entire region. Metro’s dedicated source of funding is critical to the efficient operation of the entire system and the safety of its riders. I extremely pleased that we were able to put ideology aside to make sure Metro has the funding it needs to keep operating safely and efficiently.”
“I’m a fighter and I’m a reformer,” Senator Mikulski said. “This is America’s subway and I won’t stop fighting for funding until it is safe for the people who work on it and the people who ride on it. Without this federal funding, Metro would lose matching funds from the local jurisdictions that will be used to make important, life-saving improvements. Congress isn’t giving Metro a blank check – these federal funds come with checks and balances so that this money is spent to reform the way Metro operates. I will continue to fight for these funds and for national safety legislation that creates standards to make sure people are safe when they ride any subway system.”
“Millions of Virginians use the Metro system each year to commute to work, visit the Nation’s Capital or conduct business with the federal government. These public transit investments are part of our ongoing efforts to ease gridlock and traffic congestion in Northern Virginia,” said Senator Webb. “I will continue to advocate dedicated federal funding for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and to support projects that improve our transportation infrastructure and the expansion of public transit options.”
“These funds are crucial to making the Metro system more safe,” said Senator Warner. “Federal employees account for nearly half of Metro’s peak-hour ridership and millions of visitors use the system each year, and I am proud that the Virginia and Maryland delegations were able to follow through with this commitment.”
This is the second installment of dedicated federal funding for Metro. In 2008, Congress adopted legislation authorizing $1.5 billion in federal funds over 10 years to help improve Metro’s infrastructure and provide Metro’s first dedicated, federal funding source. These funds will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia.
Senator Mikulski has been an outspoken advocate for Metro safety. In March, she reintroduced the National Metro Safety Act, a bill she originally introduced after the deadly June 2009 crash that killed nine people. Senators Cardin, Webb and Warner are original cosponsors of the bill. The bill mandates strong new federal standards for Metro systems nationwide. Currently, there are no federal safety standards for Metro systems, even though other forms of transportation such as buses, trains and airplanes are required to have them.