Every weekday, 750,000 people use Metro; to commute to work, tour our Nation’s Capital and carry on with their daily lives.
But the wail of ambulances racing to last month’s tragic crash on the Red Line was a wake up call for all American’s that our Nation’s Subway, Metro, is aging and in serious need of repair.
The issues facing Metro are systemic. This was not a case of bad luck nor was it a fluke. It will take money to fix these problems. We need newer, better rail cars and the repair and possibly replacement of the electronics system that helps make the trains run safely and on time.
To bring attention to this issue, last week the Washington Metro Area delegation in Congress, myself, Reps. Connolly, Wolf, Van Hollen and Donna Edwards held a press conference outside of the Capitol South Metro stop. Working together, we were able to deliver $150 million for Metro safety improvements in the Transportation Appropriations bill that passed the House last week. The funding is a down payment on the major improvements to the system required – to prevent another Red Line tragedy from happening again.
The larger issue at play in this situation is that Metro continues to be the only major transit system in the country with no dedicated source of funding. The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, which our delegation, including former Rep. Tom Davis, fought to pass, is going to make $3 billion available to Metro. Half will come from the federal government and the other half split between Maryland, Virginia and the District. It’s not a perfect substitute, but it is a major victory for those who believe a regional funding agreement is necessary to keep Metro running safely, full speed into the future.
In related news, rail to Dulles also received a major chunk of funding the annual Transportation Appropriations bill – $85 million to be exact. This money will go towards Phase I construction of the 23.1 mile extension of the Metrorail system from East Falls Church Metro Station to Wiehle Avenue in Reston. This construction includes the development of five new rail stations. The total amount we’ve been able to earmark for the project so far totals $366.9 million.