WASHINGTON (WUSA) - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gave a $150 million grant to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to replace its 1000-Series rail cars.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said those cars contributed 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 D.C. will also provide $150 million in matching local funds to help pay for the improvements, meaning WMATA will get a total of $300 million.
This is how the $300 million will be used:
- $79.3 million will be used to purchase as many as 300 new 7000-Series rail cars
- $44.4 million will be used for track rehabilitation
- the rest 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.
The funding was authorized by Title VI of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. The act authorizes the Transportation Department to make $150 million available annually to WMATA for capital and preventive maintenance for a 10-year period.
Lahood said the money will help WMATA make safety improvements but he urged Congress to pass the proposed rail transit safety legislation to "establish a standard level of safety across all transit systems..."
In December 2009, the Obama Administration proposed the first ever transportation-specific legislation to Congress from any administration. The proposed legislation involved implementing an enforceable national rail transit safety initiative, which the FTA has been prohibited from doing since 1964. The Administration will renew its push to grant FTA the authority during the 112th Congress.