Contact: Paul Griffo
WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today provided a $150 million grant to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to replace Washington Metro’s “1000-Series” rail cars. These cars were cited by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as a contributing factor to the severity of passenger injuries and the number of fatalities in the June 2009 Red Line crash near Fort Totten Station. Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia will also provide $150 million in matching local funds to help pay for the improvements.
“This money will let WMATA make important safety improvements to Washington’s Metrorail system,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “But to establish a standard level of safety across all transit systems, we urge Congress to pass the rail transit safety legislation proposed by the Obama Administration last year.”
In addition to $79.3 million to purchase as many as 300 new 7000-Series rail cars and $44.4 million for track rehabilitation, the remainder of the $300 million will be used to address other much-needed infrastructure projects within the system, such as Metrorail station improvements, the rehabilitation of track maintenance equipment, the replacement of track switching equipment, and elevator and escalator repairs. The grant also allocates $10.3 million for the transit agency to address safety recommendations made by the NTSB.
“Safety is our number one priority at FTA and this investment in WMATA is an investment in the welfare of the people who live and work around the nation’s capital,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “Whether they’re going to work, to school, to the doctor, or to a ballgame, DC-area residents deserve a transit system that is efficient, reliable, and most importantly, safe.”
The funding was authorized by Title VI of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, which specifically authorizes the Department to make $150 million available annually to WMATA for capital and preventive maintenance for a ten-year period. The grant will also allow the transit agency to make improvements to its bus and train repair shops and equipment.
In December 2009, President Barack Obama, through Secretary Ray LaHood, transmitted the first ever transportation-specific legislation to Congress from any Administration. Appropriately, the legislation was about implementing an enforceable national rail transit safety initiative, which the FTA has been prohibited from doing since 1964. The Senate Banking Committee unanimously passed a version of the Administration’s initiative. During the 112th Congress, the Administration will renew its push to grant FTA the authority to establish and oversee national rail transit safety standards.