WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) have announced $2.57 million in federal funding for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT). The funding – which comes as a $1.88 million grant to WMATA and a $688,448 grant for MDOT – will be used to provide rail workers with personal alert devices that will communicate the locations and statuses of trains and track segments in real time. In the case of MDOT, funds will also support new worker warning systems throughout the Baltimore light rail system. The new technology is designed to ensure the safety of Maryland’s rail and maintenance crews as they repair and expand tracks.
“I welcome the added safety these grants will afford our hardworking rail and transit staff,” said Senator Cardin. “The federal government has a special responsibility to ensure that safety is always the highest priority, not only for transit riders, but for our transit staff, without whom neither MDOT nor WMATA could function. Too often we have seen a lack of oversight and basic safety standards put workers’ lives at risk. These funds will help combat that problem, and I will continue to fight hard for the funding Maryland needs to keep our workers’ safety a top priority.”
“The safety of transit riders depends on the ability of maintenance crews to safely inspect, repair, and maintain tracks and other infrastructure,” said Senator Van Hollen. “Ensuring riders are not at risk is vital for both MDOT and WMATA – and in the case of WMATA, safety has been an ongoing issue that requires urgent and sustained attention. These grants will help boost safety across our transit systems and ultimately improve commutes for the thousands of Marylanders who use mass transit every day.”
Baltimore’s light rail system serves a ridership of 8.6 million every year. WMATA – with an annual ridership exceeding 15.3 million – serves the second-largest number of commuters in the country, behind only the New York City Subway.