U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and
Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) announced today that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will receive $35 million toward the purchase of additional Metro cars and for upgrades to the power system to accommodate longer trains.
More than 800,000 people now ride Metrorail on some weekdays, making it the second busiest mass transit line in the nation.
The new funding will enable Metro to purchase more rail cars, which will allow the agency to run more eight-car trains, and upgrade the power system so that it can handle the electrical demands of adding those additional cars to the standard six-car train.
In 2005, Congress authorized $104 million over three years for rail cars and power upgrades to address the over-crowded trains.
The funding announced today is the first installment of the three-year strategy to help address immediate service needs. Metro has ordered 122 new rail cars and is currently making power upgrades to the system.
Metro estimates that the entire rail car program (new cars, power upgrades and yard expansion) will cost approximately $600 million, increase Metro's rail fleet by 20%, and accommodate 140,000 more trips each day.
“This money is an important piece of the funding package, but it simply helps us catch up to existing needs,” said Senator Cardin.
“The Metro system is 30 years old and we will need to make a significantly larger investment in the near future to keep the system safe and efficient for the growing population in the Washington metropolitan area.”
This is much needed funding for the Washington Metro system – America's metro. Metro means more than just transportation – it means residents and visitors to our nation's capital can live, work, worship and play throughout the metro area without ever getting in their cars,” said Senator Mikulski. “I will continue to work with my colleagues to increase our investment to this critical resource.”
In May, Senators Cardin and Mikulski introduced legislation to provide the Washington-area Metrorail system with $1.5 billion in funding over a 10-year period.
The federal funds will require an equal match from Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia.
The 104-mile Metrorail system serves stations in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Metrorail and Metrobus combined carry 1.2 million passengers on weekdays, removing 580,000 cars from the region’s highways.