WASHINGTON, DC –
U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and
Barbara A. Mikulski (Both D-MD), along with
Senators Jim Webb and
Mark R. Warner (Both D-VA) announced today that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) will receive $34.3 million in additional FY2009 funding for the purchase of 52 new Metro cars. This was the last installment of a three-year, $104 million appropriations commitment.
This announcement comes just two days after the most devastating crash in Metro’s 33-year history and just one day after all four senators sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee leadership urging them to provide $150 million in FY2010 federal funding for capital upgrades and improvements to the WMATA system.
Federal Rail Safety Improvement Act, which was signed into law in October 2008, authorized $1.5 billion in federal funds over 10 years, to be matched dollar-for-dollar by Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
“While we may not know the cause of Monday’s tragic collision for some time, it shined a spotlight on the dire need for improvements and upgrades to Metrorail’s infrastructure. Funding shortfalls have caused Metro to make repairs instead of replacing aging equipment and structures
,” said Senator Cardin. “This latest $34.3 million grant is urgently needed.
However, only a steady, major stream of funding will help WMATA make the investments needed to reassure the commuters, locals and tourists, families, and all Americans who ride Metro that the system is as safe and reliable as we can make it.”
“While we do not know the exact cause of Monday’s tragic collision, we do know that Metro’s infrastructure is aging – and for too long funding shortfalls have meant short-term fixes in place of long-term solutions,”
Senator Mikulski said. “This $34.3 in funding will provide an immediate, much-needed infusion of capital to help WMATA’s process of updating its infrastructure. But more needs to be done. As Maryland’s senior senator, I will keep fighting to make sure WMATA has the federal funding it needs to keep commuters safe and on the move.”
“This necessary funding will assist in upgrading an aging system to prevent against further incidents that jeopardize passenger safety,”
said Senator Webb. “The events of Monday evening draw heightened attention to safety conditions on the Metrorail and Metrobus services, and I will continue working to ensure proper funding of the highly-utilized transit system.”
“This final installment on a federal commitment to Metrorail is timely as commuters in this region are focused on Monday's tragedy near Fort Totten,”
Senator Warner said. “Our Metro partners must continue to work together to make sure Metro is able to provide safe, efficient public transit service.”
Metro has a list of ready-to-go projects totaling about $530 million and $11 billion in capital funding needs over the next decade.