WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) issued the following joint statement in response to the announcement by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Friday that it would withhold five percent of Fiscal Year 2017 transit formula funds or approximately $8.9 million from the three local jurisdictions until a new Safety Oversight Program (SSOP) was established. According to FTA, “these funds are being withheld, not forfeited. The funds will be available to the transit systems once the jurisdictions establish a federally-compliant, FTA certified SSOP.” Specific legislation is currently moving through the Maryland legislature.
“We all agree that safety at WMATA must be the highest priority. Maryland, Virginia and D.C. must move faster to finalize the Metro Safety Commission. But we disagree strongly with FTA’s decision to hold hostage critical transportation needs across Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, particularly in areas that are far from Metro’s service zone. Cutting off resources for projects midstream will affect safety and increase overall costs, which is exactly the opposite of what FTA should be trying to accomplish. We understand that a deadline has been missed, but we urge the FTA to rethink this course of action in the name of safety and stability of our regional transportation system.”